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California Governor Orders Low Carbon Standard for Transportation Fuels; 10% GHG Reduction on Lifecycle Basis by 2020

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is establishing by Executive Order a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) that requires, as an initial goal, a 10% reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) intensity of all passenger vehicle fuels sold in California by 2020.

The LCFS requires fuel providers—refiners, importers, and blenders of passenger vehicle fuels—to ensure that the mix of fuel they sell into the California market meets, on average, a declining standard for GHG emissions measured in CO2-equivalent gram per British Thermal Unit (BTU). All relevant greenhouse gases will be included (i.e., CO2, CH4, and N2O) and be measured on a full fuel cycle basis (i.e., upstream feedstock extraction, fuel refining, and transport to market).

The LCFS is the world’s first fuel standard targeted specifically at the quantified reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, measured on a full lifecycle basis.

Transportation accounts for forty percent of California’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, and we rely on petroleum-based fuels for an overwhelming 96 percent of our transportation needs. This petroleum dependency contributes to climate change and leaves workers, businesses and consumers vulnerable to price shocks from an unstable global energy market. As a world leader in energy efficiency, alternative energy and reducing greenhouse gases, California’s new low carbon standard is an innovative action that will diversify our fuel supplies and establish a vibrant market for cleaner-burning fuels.

—Governor Schwarzenegger

This is expected to replace 20% of on-road gasoline consumption with lower-carbon fuels, more than triple the size of the state’s renewable fuels market, and place more than 7 million alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles on California’s roads (20 times more than on the California roads today).

The LCFS will use market-based mechanisms that allow providers to choose how they reduce emissions while responding to consumer demand. For example, providers may purchase and blend more lower-carbon ethanol (e.g., cellulosic ethanol rather than corn ethanol) into gasoline products, purchase credits from electric utilities supplying low-carbon electrons to electric passenger vehicles, diversify into low-carbon hydrogen as a product and more, including new strategies yet to be developed.

A white paper issued in support of the LCFS by the Governor’s office notes that to achieve a 10% reduction in carbon intensity, fuel providers will need to reduce the carbon intensity associated with their fuels from about 97.4 kg of CO2-eq/MMBTU to 87.7 kg/MMBTU.

While at this time we believe the most likely strategies are E10, E85, switching to cellulosic ethanol, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen fuel cells, markets will determine whether that mix or others (including options such as biobutanol or biocrude) will be employed to meet the standard.

Large-scale use of lower-carbon transportation fuels is necessary to meet the AB32 requirement that GHGs generated in the state be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. A 10% reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels will contribute 13.4 million metric tons of CO2 reductions, more than half of the 24 million metric tons of CO2 reductions needed to return passenger vehicles and light trucks to 1990 levels.

The Governor’s Executive Order directs the Secretary for Environmental Protection to coordinate the actions of the California Energy Commission (CEC), the California Air Resources Board (ARB), the University of California and other agencies to develop the protocols for measuring the “life-cycle carbon intensity” of transportation fuels. This analysis will become part of the State Implementation Plan for alternative fuels as required by AB 1007 (Pavley, Chapter 371, 2005) and will be submitted to the California Air Resources Board for consideration as an early action item under AB 32.

The ARB will complete its review of the LCFS protocols for adoption as an early action no later than June, 2007. Upon adoption as an early action by the ARB, the regulatory process at ARB will begin to put the new standard into effect. It is expected that the regulatory process at ARB to implement the new standard will be completed no later than December, 2008.

The University of California estimates that the Governor’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions goals can increase Gross State Product by about $60 billion and create more than 20,000 new jobs.

Possible Low Carbon Fuel Strategies
Strategy Description
E10 (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline by volume) Increase blending of ethanol from today’s 5.7 percent by volume to 10 percent.
E85 (85% ethanol, 85% gasoline by volume) Sell high blend ethanol (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) for use in Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs).
Switch to Low-Carbon Ethanol Switch to ethanol made from cellulosic materials (e.g., agricultural waste, switchgrass)l that has 4-5 times lower GHG emissions than today’s corn.
Electricity Either in pure battery electric vehicle or in plug-in hybrid vehicle that can be recharged from the electricity grid.
Hydrogen Used in zero-emitting fuel cell vehicles or internal combustion engine cars modified.
CNG, LPG Compressed Natural Gas and Liquefied Petroleum Gas burned in modified internal combustion engine cars.
Other biomass based fuels For example, biobutanol or biocrude
Other Future strategies to be developed by fuel providers and outside innovators.



An Engineer

Assuming we are concerned about global warming, why would no nuclear be good? There is a large nuke plant not too far from my house. It spins out a gigawatt all day long and produces no particulates, no acid formers, and no CO2. It's quiet too. I like it. If someone tried to replace it with a coal plant, I would be mad as hell.
One word: radioactive waste. Ideal stuff to make a dirty bomb out of. Also, are you telling me you are not even slightly concerned that something could go wrong at some point? We are all human remember. And, why limit your concern to global warming?

If we used intelligent modular designs (and well meaning but uninformed people... got informed), nukes wouldn't cost so much to build.
Yes, and if pigs could fly, we'd eat no pork...

An Engineer

If the governator were really serious about CO2 - as opposed to endorsing specific technologies - he would focus on cutting demand for fossil fuel to begin with:...
Excuse me, Rafael, but how is the governor endorsing specific technologies? His method for calculating the GHG from a specific unit of energy means any technology gets a fair shot at the apple. We can only wish that the Federal Government would be so clever.

The governor did mention a list of potential low carbon strategies, which was just his way of saying: this is possible with existing technologies. That's a long way from endorsing any specific technology.

Henry Gibson

Without the full information it can be easy to conclude that some fuels are low carbon. Hydrogen has zero carbon, but it must be separated from water with electicity or with carbon fuels. Some success has been had in having organisms decompose organic materials for hydrogen. Hydrogen can be fed to micro-organisms to make methane, alcohol or other organic materials if there is also a source of carbon. Carbon Dioxide can sometimes be used. If ethanol can be produced from carbon dioxide and hydrogen in large amounts, then it is a better carrier of energy than corn ethanol. Ammonia is also a zero carbon fuel but most of it is made from hydrogen and it is hard to burn, but it can be stored almost as easy as propane. Ethanol from corn is high carbon relative to methane(natural gas) and large amounts of heat from natural gas or coal are used to produce ethanol even after the corn is harvested. Some quantity of electricity is also used. In sweden large amounts of methane are being used in cars. Some of this methane is from bio-decomposition of organic wastes. Methane is the lowest carbon common fuel, and except for electric cars, its use gives the best WELL-TO-WHEEL efficiency and the lowest carbon output per mile. Methane powered cars could make much more difference in a shorter period of time at less cost than hydrogen and fuel cell ever could. Electric cars have the benefit that main power stations are always run at very high efficiency, and their internal electric motors and batteries are also always high efficiency. Electricity can be generated from the same oil that is used to make gasoline and central power stations can do this and deliver it with perhaps only one fourth the loss of energy due to refining and burning it in your engine. Delivering raw crude oil to power stations to be burnt and the electricity used to power electric cars could cut the use of oil for producing gasoline for cars to less than one half of what it is. Even Methane is best used in a central power station to reduce carbon emissions because combined cycle power plants can put 60% of methane's energy into the wires, but a car engine does good to put 20% percent to the wheels. Methane burnt in Microturbines at home or busnesses can put 30% of the energy into the wires, but the rest of the energy can be used to heat or cool the premises. A school in Pasadena CA saves many carbon emissions and money this way. Honda is now selling in the US a combination generator-furnace that runs on natural gas; it would give lower carbon to use it to heat your house or swimming pool and use the electricity to charge your car than to burn the methane in your car.

Because France gets nearly 80 percent of its electric power from nuclear power stations (and exports a great deal to Italy, England and Germany), it will perhaps be the first nation to support electric cars in a big way. Taxes and limitations on carbon dioxide releases are very real in Europe. If California were really interested in reducing carbon emissions it would order the sale of ZEVs.(Zero Emission Vehicles).


Allen Z,
IMHO the problem is not 20 vs. 40 story office buildings. 20 stories is plenty enough, I think.

The real problem is suburban sprawl; everybody wanting to live in their own 1-2 story house with their own yard and lawn. That's fine if 'the city' is <100000 inhabitants, but for a 10 million people city you have endless suburban sprawl, with all the traffic problems.

For a big city, the challenge is to get people to move into apartments in high-rise buildings (be they 20 or 40 stories). That way you'll get the population density high enough so that you can have a functioning mass transit network.


Combined Heat and Power (CHP) used in the home is a great way to save. You can make electricity using NG and use the heat to heat your home or cool your home with absorption AC. Every furnace and AC should actually be a CHP unit and we could save lots of fuel and eliminate lots of polution, but the home builders would rather not and the homeowner just keeps paying the gas and electric companies.

An Engineer

If California were really interested in reducing carbon emissions it would order the sale of ZEVs.(Zero Emission Vehicles).
Beg to differ here: CA seems to have learned from the past: you can't limit yourself to one technology, and hope it pans out. This proposal levels the playing field (I know, it will never be perfectly level), and allows very different technologies to prove themselves. Now it is up to the technology providers to put up, or shut up.


Hi all,

Lets keep some prospective on this whole issue before we go out and make living in California or America so expensive that only the rich will afford personal transportation:

If we, that is, all of the United States stop all transportation use, it would reduce the worldwide emission of greenhouse gases by only approximately 3.5% (and falling rapidly with China’s growth.) That means that if we ceased to move ourselves, our goods, our food….etc, we would have virtually no affect on global greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore, if we are to be realistic and say we can reduce our emissions by 25%, we would lower the total GGG emissions by about 8/10th of a percent. Is it really worth the cost to our economy and our freedoms to attack transportation? Would it not be more economical and effective to focus on the larger single source emitters such as power generation, and chemical production? Look to other methods of generating electricity such as nuclear?

Finally keep in mind that as China grows, for example creating two New York sized cities every five years, our footprint in the area of global greenhouse gas emissions becomes inconsequential. We could cease to exist and it would have virtually no impact!

Just some fact to think about! Oh these facts come from last years report on GGG emission report conducted by a department in the United Nations. For some reason there has been little coverage of its findings.

An Engineer

Tell you what JoB,
Find us a reference to that study and we might buy it. In the mean time here are some numbers that contradict your 3.5%: US ~6746 mt/year or about 28% of the total for the list given. Admittedly the list is not complete, so the real number is probably in the 20 - 25% range.

It is also worth noting that the US emits about 24 mt CO2/person/year, compared to ~11 for the EU. That suggests that we can achieve a saving of at least 50% without destroying our economy or loosing our freedoms.

In fact, quite the opposite will happen: reducing our oil consumption (already a hefty 25% of world oil consumption) would reduce our need for imported oil by ~2/3rds. That would leave the price of oil in a near free fall and mean we export far fewer petro-dollars to our allies in the Middle East, like the one where 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from. Spin it any way you want, Al Qaeda takes a huge financial hit. Ditto for Hugo Chavez and Iran. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

So go ahead, JoB, get some prospective (sic).

BTW, what does GGG stand for?


well thats really special but that nuclear waste has to be stored some were without any faulty storage happenings such as a earth quake or what ever for 4.5 billion years

besides global warming is a hoax id rather have some more CO2 if the enviorment then more green glowing FuN!!!!
to go swimming in


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The ARB will complete its review of the LCFS protocols for adoption as an early action no later than June, 2007. Upon adoption as an early action by the ARB, the regulatory process at ARB will begin to put the new standard into effect. It is expected that the regulatory process at ARB to implement the new standard will be completed no later than December, 2008. rent in london


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