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California Air Resources Board Releases Proposed Scoping Plan for GHG Reductions; Increasing Importance of Land Use and Regional Transit Policies

Potential impacts of land-use and transit strategies on greenhouse gas emissions in California. Click to enlarge. Source: ARB, Rodier (2008)

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) released its proposed Scoping Plan to reduce California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In June, ARB had released a discussion draft version. (Earlier post.) The final proposed plan released reflects additional analysis, and public input that ARB has received over the past several months. The plan is slated to go before the Board for approval at its December meeting.

Development of the Scoping Plan is a central requirement of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. In 2007, ARB established a 2020 GHG target of 427 MMTCO2e, requiring a reduction of 169 MMTCO2e—approximately 30%—from the state’s projected 2020 of 596 MMTCO2e in a business-as-usual scenario.

The transportation sector in California—largely the cars and trucks that move goods and people—is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, with 38% of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions. From an end-use perspective, on-road vehicles account for 36% of GHG emissions; passenger vehicles alone account for 30%. With no mitigating action, in a business-as-usual scenario, ARB expects total transportation sector emissions to increase by approximately 25% by 2020.

Accordingly, the Scoping Plan requires the largest sectorial chunk of reductions to come from transportation, outlining projected 62.3 MMTCO2e (37%) in reductions through a variety of measures.

As in the draft Scoping plan, the key transportation instrument is the light-duty vehicle greenhouse standards, followed by the Low-Carbon Fuel Standard. In the final plan, however, ARB has increased its estimate of reductions in regional transportation greenhouse gases achieved through land-use changes and transit policies designed to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT); this is prior to setting the targets required by the newly enacted SB 375 (anti-sprawl bill). (Earlier post.)

The Pavley greenhouse gas vehicle standards to achieve near-term emission reductions represent the primary mechanism, supported by the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) program to transform the future vehicle fleet, and the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program created by AB 118. Combined, these measures are to account for a reduction of 31.7 MMTCO2e—the same as in the draft plan.

AB 1493 (Pavley, Chapter 200, Statutes of 2002) directed ARB to adopt vehicle standards that lowered greenhouse gas emissions to the maximum extent technologically feasible, beginning with the 2009 model year. ARB adopted the regulations in 2004 and is suing the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) for a waiver under the federal Clean Air Act to implement the regulation. To date, 13 other states have adopted California’s existing greenhouse gas standards for vehicles. Assuming the waiver is granted, ARB plans to adopt a second, more stringent phase of the Pavley regulations.

ARB is also evaluating the use of feebates as a measure to achieve additional reductions, either as a backstop to the Pavley regulation if the regulation cannot be implemented, or as a supplement to Pavley if the waiver is approved and the regulation takes effect. (Earlier post.)

If the EPA does grant the request for the waiver, ARB says that it will analyze the potential for pursuing a feebate program that could complement the Pavley regulations and achieve additional reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Through 2012, the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program requires placement of hundreds of ZEVs (including hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric vehicles) and thousands of near-zero emission vehicles (plug-in hybrids, conventional hybrids, compressed natural gas vehicles).

In the mid-term (2012-2015), the program will require placement of increasing numbers of ZEVs and near-zero emission vehicles in California. In 2009, the Board will consider a proposal that is currently being developed to ensure that the ZEV program is optimally designed to help the state meet its 2020 target and put the state on the path to meeting the 2050 target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

ARB is also administering the Air Quality Improvement Program established under AB 118, which provides approximately $50 million per year for grants to fund clean vehicle/equipment projects and research on the air quality impacts of alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles.

AB 118 also created the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program and authorized CEC to spend up to $120 million per year for over seven years (from 2008-2015) to develop, demonstrate, and deploy innovative technologies to transform California’s fuel and vehicle types. This program creates the opportunities for investment in technologies and fuels that will help meet the Low Carbon Fuel Standard; the AB 1007 (Pavley, Chapter 371, Statutes of 2005) goal of increasing alternative fuels; the AB 32 goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and the overall goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Other policy instruments contributing to quantified reductions in transportation emissions, in order of decreasing contribution, include:

  • The Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), 15 MMTCO2e. The LCFS is intended to reduce the carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuels by at least 10% by 2020. ARB identified the LCFS as a Discrete Early Action item, and is developing a regulation for Board consideration in March 2009.

    A 10% reduction in the intensity of transportation fuels is expected to equate to a reduction of 16.5 MMTCO2E in 2020. In a change from the draft plan, ARB has discounted the contribution of the LCFS to 15 MMTCO2E to account for possible overlap of benefits between LCFS and the Pavley greenhouse gas standards.

  • Regional transportation greenhouse gas reduction, 5 MMTCO2e. ARB re-evaluated the potential benefits from regional targets for transportation-related greenhouse gases in consultation with regional planning organizations and researchers at UC Berkeley. Based on this information, ARB increased the anticipated reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for Regional Transportation-Related Greenhouse Gas Targets from 2 to 5 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent.

    This number represents an estimate of what may be achieved from local land use changes. It is not the newly enacted SB 375 (anti-sprawl bill) regional target. ARB will establish regional targets for each Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) region following the input of the Regional Targets Advisory Committee and a public consultation process with MPOs and other stakeholders per SB 375.

  • Vehicle Efficiency Measures, 4.5 MMTCO2e. ARB is pursuing a regulation to ensure that tires are properly inflated when vehicles are serviced. ARB is also pursuing ways to reduce engine load via lower friction oil and reducing the need for air conditioner use. In another adjustment to the draft plan, ARB has decreased the estimated reductions in this area.

  • Goods Movement, 3.7 MMTCO2e. The use of shore power for ships at berth and improved efficiency in good movement activities are the core of the plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in this area. ARB has already adopted a regulation to require ship electrification at ports. Proposition 1B funds, as well as clean air plans being implemented by California’s ports, will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while cutting criteria pollutant and toxic diesel emissions.

    ARB is proposing to develop and implement additional measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to goods movement from trucks, ports and other related facilities.

    After further evaluation, ARB incorporated the Draft Scoping Plan’s Heavy-Duty Vehicle-Efficiency measure into the Goods Movement measure. A Heavy-Duty Engine Efficiency measure could reduce emissions associated with goods movement through improvements which could involve advanced combustion strategies, friction reduction, waste heat recovery, and electrification of accessories. ARB will consider setting requirements and standards for heavy-duty engine efficiency in the future if higher levels of efficiency are not being produced either in response to market forces (fuel cost) or federal standards.

  • Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Efficiency, 1.4 MMTCO2e. Requiring retrofits to improve the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks could include a requirement for devices that reduce aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance. In addition, hybridization of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased fuel efficiency. ARB decreased the expected benefit from the level in the draft plan.

  • High-speed rail, 1.0 MMTCO2e. A high speed rail (HSR) system is part of the statewide strategy to provide more mobility choice and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This measure supports implementation of plans to construct and operate a HSR system between northern and southern California. As planned, the HSR is a 700-mile-long rail system capable of speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour on dedicated, fully-grade separated tracks with state-of-the-art safety, signaling and automated rail control systems. The system would serve the major metropolitan centers of California in 2030 and is projected to displace between 86 and 117 million riders from other travel modes in 2030.



nrg nut

How much more effective would the ARB Energy Conservation programs be if they dropped the unnecessary "MMTCO2e" nomenclature and simply stated their goals in kWh? At least kWh is a measure of energy that the world agrees on. Whereas MMTCO2e flounders in derision and controversy.

Henry Gibson

To the CARBon people. It is not ARB it is "California" Air Resources Board.

California is the third largest state. It should provide every bit of its biofuels, wind, and hydro-electric energy inside its own boundaries as well as all its electricity.

CARBon people can reduce green house gasses substantially and quickly and at no net cost by the requirement of cogeneration at every new large building.
This can reduce CO2 production by as much as %40 over standard buildings. Waste heat from cogeneration units can be used for heating or cooling or both. A California company, Capstone turbine, produces cogeneration equipment with very low maintenance and long life as do others. Appartment buildings are a good match for such units as are some of the very large California homes. When running an air conditioner, a Capstone unit can heat a swimming pool. Special gas rates similar to rates for power companies must be instituted.

Honda units may be used in small homes. The LION steam unit from Germany is interesting.

The real word the CARBon people should be looking at is: NUCLEAR yes NUCLEAR yes NUCLEAR the ultimate low carbon energy.

CARBon people need to mandate the construction of a used fuel repository within the borders of California and then mandate that utilities buy 20 percent of their power from nuclear reactor stations with an increase of 10 percent a year. CANDU 600 reactors can be built in four years.

Three Mile Island proved that there was no actual danger to the public from a failed reactor of a north american type. There is no need for evacuation plans because there can be no massive speading of nuclear materials and Chernobyl proved that bureaucratically delayed evacuation did not kill anyone even with major contamination. Every pound of human flesh has 25 atomic explosions in it every second anyway.

A reactor could be built 200 feet under downtown San Francisco or Los Angeles to supply very hot water for heating and absorbtion air conditioning. This applies to any large town as well. A reactor that produces only heating does not have to operate at high pressures so it can cost much less. It also needs no cooling water or cooling towers. It is artificial geothemal energy.

Germany invented fuel and a reactor for it, called the pebble bed reactor. It operated well in Germany and has been replicated in China. It can be installed very quickly because it needs no high pressure tank that has few manufactures. ..HG..

Reality Czech

kWh does not reflect greenhouse potential. Emissions from vehicles include CO2 and methane, which vary widely in their greenhouse potential. Other GHGs include N2O, which is mostly generated from agriculture. The standard appears to attempt to address them all.

Reality Czech
When running an air conditioner, a Capstone unit can heat a swimming pool.
Why would anyone need to heat a swimming pool in air-conditioning season in California? If it must be heated, why can't solar heat be used instead of fuel?
Ike Solem

The kWH vs. MMTCO2 is due to the fact that this is focusing on in-state transportation, an issue that the gasoline and oil industry is going to lobby hard against, since California is the site of the the highest fuel demand in the world, thanks to our suburbs, our SUVs, and our trucking of agricultural and manufactured goods (as well as the fact that most of the rail transport, Red Line etc., was ripped out by the oil industry in the 50s).

The real goals should be to start by making California agriculture fossil-fuel free - meaning that a lot of solar and wind power needs to be installed, as well as a lot of electric motor-powered farm equipment. This will likely lead to somewhat more labor-intensive agriculture. A big boon there would be the development of an industrial biofuel sector in California - note that contaminated and degraded land is perfect for biofuel crops, which can also be used to restore soil quality (you don't eat biofuel crops, so jet fuel residue, etc, is no big deal).

The second goal should be to make California manufacturing and industry fossil-fuel free, followed by the third goal, fossil-fuel free residential energy supplies.

Part of that will involve cutting off imports of fossil fuels and fossil fuel-generated electricity - meaning a moratorium on Canadian tar sand imports and Four Corners coal-fired electricity imports. That is something that the oil and coal industries will line up to fight, as it will cut directly into their bottom line.

So far, it's all been about greedy fossil fuel interests using their control of the media and the government to stifle the renewables. We have an energy system that is largely controlled by anti-competitive fossil fuel cartels. The vast profits realized by fossil fuel interests have allowed them to purchase a controlling stake in the U.S. government and in the U.S. media - leaving us with little but crooked politicians and see-no-evil reporters.

Will that dynamic change? Fossil fuel-based economies are a literal dead end - but change is expensive and change is painful, and some people think they can just buy the highest land - but as recent events show, the power of money is very illusory - if the goods and services provided by the Earth go away, no amount of money will buy them back.

Ike Solem

Note on nuclear: There are three general problems with nuclear technology:

1) Heat exchange. A reactor gets very hot indeed without an efficient cooling system. If the reactor power spikes or the cooling system fails, a catastrophic explosion or meltdown can occur. Efficient heat transfer systems prevent that from happening, but it means that reactors use a lot of cooling water, even more so than coal-fired power plants do. Pebble-bed reactors are helium-cooled, but that means that they can also catch fire if air gets in (air + hot graphite = fire). This is the real technical problem that nuclear reactors have, and is the major safety issue.

2) Radioactive fuel rods. Once fission has gone on for a while, reaction products build up, and the fuel rods become much more dangerous than when they were first put into the reactor. Radioactive cesium, strontium and iodine are very nasty, but so is the plutonium that forms as a side reaction to the fission. There are tons and tons of this hot fuel sitting around all across the world. The French, who produce ~80% of their electricity via a government-operated and owned nuclear system, melt the stuff in glass, which is probably the best option.

The U.S. nuclear industry hates to talk about the French government-run model, because it implies that a kind of military level of discipline is needed to safely operate nuclear reactors, which is true, but the French are socialists, so we can't mention their nuclear power system.

3) The threat of nuclear terrorism & nuclear war. A spent fuel rod can be easily processed to extract plutonium, which then can be used to construct a nuclear weapon. A "dirty bomb" is a spent fuel rod plus some high explosives. Thus, any "spent fuel" needs to be carefully guarded.

Wind and solar have none of these problems, and no cooling water is required to operate either wind turbines or PV panels. The one problem with wind and solar is the need for energy storage systems - but that's a far easier problem to deal with than the nuclear ones.

Plus, nuclear is too expensive and is non-renewable. In the past few years, the price of uranium has gone up tenfold, for example, and global uranium ore reserves are limited and expensive to mine and process into reactor fuel. In contrast, the fuel for renewable energy is sunlight and wind - which are not going to run out.

nrg nut


"The vast profits realized by fossil fuel interests have allowed them to purchase a controlling stake in the U.S. government and in the U.S. media..."

While on the surface this appears to be a valid assessment - it does not explain the overwhelming support in media for a politician who so thoroughly opposes fossil fuel interests e.g. taxing big oil windfall profits.

Why should the mainstream press controlled by fossil fuel - support this candidate so transparently?


Ike, do you realize that the spent fuel is in the form of hard ceramic pellets and that actually making a "cloud" of deadly material would require ball-milling it to a fine powder, at a minimum?

Do you also realize that anyone attempting to do this would be far more likely to kill themselves quickly rather than produce a workable device?

Finally, do you realize that areas could be decontaminated rather easily because powders can be rinsed or scrubbed off and radiation detectors can find any concentration that poses even a minimal health hazard, unlike e.g. anthrax?

There's a reason nobody's even trying to use "dirty bombs" as terror weapons.  They're too hard to make and too easy to clean up after.  Now, if someone wanted to use a small nuclear bomb to vaporize a few tons of radwastes after extracting the U and Pu for fuel, THAT would be a serious long term area-denial weapon.  This is beyond the reach of non-state actors, but the USA could use it to get everyone out of e.g. Waziristan... or Mecca.

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