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California Air Resources Board Releases Proposed Regulation for Low Carbon Fuel Standard

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) released its proposed regulation to implement the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. The release of the proposed regulation allows 45 days for the public to review the language and provide comment before the item is considered at the 23 April 23 ARB hearing.

The regulation establishes two performance standards that fuel producers and importers must meet each year beginning in 2011. One standard is established for gasoline and the alternative fuels that can replace it. A second similar standard is set for diesel fuel and its replacements. Each standard is set to achieve an average 10% in the carbon intensity of the statewide mix transportation fuels by 2020. The regulation is expected to result in 16 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2020.

The standards are “back-loaded”—more reductions are required in the last five years, than the first five years. This allows for the development of advanced fuels that are lower in carbon than today’s fuels and the penetration of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, and flexible fuel vehicles. ARB staff anticipates that compliance with the LCFS will be based on a combination of strategies involving lower carbon fuels and more efficient, advanced-technology vehicles.

Reformulated gasoline mixed with corn-derived ethanol at 10% by volume and low sulfur diesel fuel represent the baseline fuels.

The lifecycle analysis required by the LCFS includes the direct emissions associated with producing, transporting, and using the fuels as well as consideration of both direct and indirect effects that are caused by the change in land use or other effects.

For some crop-based biofuels, the staff has identified land use changes as a significant source of additional GHG emissions. Therefore, the staff is proposing that emissions associated with land use changes be included in the carbon intensity values assigned to those fuels in the regulation. No other significant indirect effects that result in large GHG emissions have been identified that would substantially affect the LCFS framework for reducing the carbon intensity of transportation fuels.

...Efforts to model indirect land use impacts indicate that the full lifecycle carbon intensities of some biofuels may be similar to or even higher than the carbon intensities of conventional petroleum-based fuels. ARB staff has been and will continue to work with modelers at the University of California and Purdue University to derive indirect land use change estimates that are empirically based, defensible, and fully open to public scrutiny and comment.

Based on the work done to date, crop-based biofuels contribute to some indirect land use impacts. However, the magnitude of this impact has been questioned by renewable fuel advocates. Land use change is driven by multiple factors. Because the tools for estimating land use change are few and relatively new, biofuel producers argue that land use change impacts should be excluded from carbon intensity values pending the development of better estimation techniques.

Based on its work with university land use change researchers, however, ARB staff has concluded that the land use impacts of crop-based biofuels are significant, and must be included in LCFS fuel carbon intensities. To exclude them would allow fuels with carbon intensities that are similar to gasoline and diesel fuel to function as low-carbon fuels under the LCFS. This would delay the development of truly low-carbon fuels, and jeopardize the achievement of a 10 percent reduction in fuel carbon intensity by 2020.

—ARB ISOR

The standards are expressed as the carbon intensity of gasoline and diesel fuel and their alternatives in terms of grams of CO2 equivalent per megajoule (g CO2e/MJ). Providers of transportation fuels (referred to as regulated parties) must demonstrate that the mix of fuels they supply meet the LCFS intensity standards for each annual compliance period. They must report all fuels provided and track the fuels’ carbon intensity through a system of “credits” and “deficits.” Credits are generated from fuels with lower carbon intensity than the standard. Deficits result from the use of fuels with higher carbon intensity than the standard. A regulated party meets its compliance obligation by ensuring that amount of credits it earns (or otherwise acquires from another party) is equal to, or greater than, the deficits it has incurred. Credits and deficits are generally determined based on the amount of fuel sold, the carbon intensity of the fuel, and the efficiency by which a vehicle converts the fuel into useable energy. The calculated metric is tons of GHG emissions. This determination is made for each year between 2011 and 2020. Credits may be banked and traded within the LCFS market to meet obligations.

To enhance private sector and federal investment into alternative fuel production and distribution, California is providing funding to assist in the early development and deployment of the most promising low-carbon fuels. The Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (AB118, Nunez, 2007), managed by the California Energy Commission, will provide approximately $120 million dollars per year over seven years to deploy the cleanest fuels and vehicles.

ARB will hold a public workshop the week of 23 March to accept public comment on the proposed regulation.

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Comments

The Goracle

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Thank you California for expediting the population exodus from your state.

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Will S

Global warming will accomplish said migration.

Reel$$

Sounds like that movie in which intergalactic thieves and con artists arrive on Earth to dupe unsuspecting, ign'nt humans out of their hard earned cash: "SpaceCon One"

If CO2 is a "pollutant" then human respiration is "polluting" the air. At what point does CARB institute the "Low Carbon Breathing Standard?" And after taxing human respiration it'll be time to go after those mass polluters - trees, plants and other carbon-based life forms!

legion

California? Is that still a US state? Not yet part of the third world?

Al Gore was banking on global warming, but the sun made other plans.

Peter

Reel$$, get your facts straight. Trees and plants absorb carbon. The more, the merrier. As for a a tax on breathing, well, I'd be all for taxing people who are stupid enough to have more than two kids, or at least disallowing a deduction for more than two kids. I'm sure you'll think that position is extreme, but if we don't stop world population from exploding, not only will we speed up global warming, but we'll run out of vital resources, such as water, among others.

Engineer-Poet

The dose makes the poison.  If Reel$$ doesn't think CO2 in excess is a pollutant, I'll be happy to put him in an atmosphere of 65% nitrogen, 30% oxygen and 5% CO2 and see how he likes it.  Heck, if he thinks oxygen in excess isn't a pollutant, he can sit in pure O2 at 4 bar for a while; what's left of him will probably think differently, if it is capable of thinking at all.

Human emissions have put atmospheric CO2 far above anything in the historical record of the last million or so years (which happens to be what life on earth is currently adapted for), and added huge amounts of unnatural gases like CF4, SF6, and N2O.  All of these are IR-trapping gases.  If the trolls think that such off-the-scale changes at unprecedented rates will have no untoward effects, well... that's why they're trolls.

Andrey Levin

US Navy allows concentration of up to 8000 ppm (8% by volume) in nuclear submarines.

Engineer-Poet

8000 ppm is 0.8%, Andrey.

Andrey Levin

Thanks, EP, I stand corrected. The dog ate 0. in my post.

Andrey Levin

BTW, EP:

Most of contemporary plants evolved about 200 million years ago. “The latest major group of plants to evolve were the grasses, which became important in the mid Tertiary, from around 40 million years ago”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_history_of_plants

Atmospheric levels of CO2 were much higher than now when plants evolved. Current “starvation” levels of CO2 in atmosphere are abnormally low for plants, that’s why some plants evolved C4 photosynthesis path to cheat low CO2 in air, like corn or sugar cane.

The best currently available method to reconstruct Holocene CO2 concentrations – stomata proxies – indicate that at numerous points during Holocene (last 10-12 thousand years) atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were as high as today. See, for example, here:

http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/EGS02/05681/EGS02-A-05681.pdf

Most likely current uptick in CO2 concentrations is antropogenic, and yes, it is changing the biosphere to a degree. The Earth becoming greener, and biosphere more lavish:

http://www.co2science.org/subject/g/summaries/greeningearth.php

Both CO2 and N2O are natural chemicals, and are produced and exchanged in Earth cycles on scales 100 times larger than from antropogenic sources.

Artificial gases like CFC are, as you rightfully notices, off-scale, because their amounts are minuscule, and these gases are degradable by UV waves.

Personally, I am finding ozone hole scare (which was way overrated according to last scientific publications) much more believable and scary than current fireball Earth debacle.

Engineer-Poet

Quoth Andrey:

The best currently available method to reconstruct Holocene CO2 concentrations – stomata proxies – indicate that at numerous points during Holocene (last 10-12 thousand years) atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were as high as today.

Andrey, I don't know why you're accepting proxies when direct measurements of CO2 from ice cores show only slight excursions close to 300 ppm in the last half-million years (first graph, red curve).

Engineer-Poet

Closing the tag.

Andrey Levin

Sorry, EP, re-opening the tag.

Ice core PROXIES of past CO2 concentrations are smoothed averages (due to physical diffusion processes in ice firn) over couple of hundred years. Early proxies have only 1000-1500 year resolution, and that’s why 20 years old state of the science was unable to distinguish which come first: increase in global temperature or increase in CO2 concentrations. At the time of creation of Inconvenient Truth it was already established that increase in CO2 concentrations lagged increased global temperatures for about 500 years.

As being smoothed averages over 200-400 years, ice core CO2 concentration proxies just naturally smooth peaks in CO2 concentrations. Stomata proxies have much higher time resolution, in order of 50 years, and thus are able to distinguish short-term peaks and dives.

Plus, as Jaworovsky pointed out, ice core proxies tend to underestimate absolute CO2 concentrations due to extremely complex processes of gases dissolution in water droplets presented even in -50C ice under pressure.

All in all, IMO, CO2 concentrations of last few centuries were about 300-320 ppm, and started to increase exactly at 1950s due to –yes!- antropogenic combustion of “fossil” fuels. Note, that such my estimate is working exactly toward antropogenic hypothesis of current CO2 rise.

Reel$$

EP:

Man-made contribution to global atmospheric CO2 (annualized, IPCC) = .000348 volume * .25% not absorbed by terrestrial or ocean sinks = 0.000087.

AGW caused by 0.000087 trace gas? Except! It's been COOLING the last 10 years!! Ooops.

http://lce.folc.ca/2008/08/03/man-made-global-co2-emissions/

Engineer-Poet

Quoth ReelTroll:

Man-made contribution to global atmospheric CO2 (annualized, IPCC) = .000348 volume * .25% not absorbed by terrestrial or ocean sinks = 0.000087.
Let's see you take 0.000087 by volume of CO in air for a week and we'll see how insignificant you consider it.

Quoth Andrey:

Ice core PROXIES of past CO2 concentrations are smoothed averages (due to physical diffusion processes in ice firn) over couple of hundred years.
Yes, so?  List the natural processes which could cause significant drops in CO2 over such a period, and why these would not leave traces in C14 proxies, sediments, bivalve shells or other deposits.
Stomata proxies have much higher time resolution, in order of 50 years, and thus are able to distinguish short-term peaks and dives.
Are you saying that stomata only vary with CO2 concentration and not e.g. availability of water?  (A quick search shows lots of papers.)  Where's the evidence that natural processes belched lots of carbon and then stashed it away over such short intervals?
Plus, as Jaworovsky pointed out, ice core proxies tend to underestimate absolute CO2 concentrations due to extremely complex processes of gases dissolution in water droplets presented even in -50C ice under pressure.
And once the pores in the ice are closed and the gases can only be exchanged between the ice and the gas bubbles in it, what difference does this make?

You're not doing a good job of convincing me here.

Helmet Veshdon

This is a wonderful idea, just as long as they can get it off the ground and working. I think this should have been a catalyst for all politicians to start implementing a more green lifestyle. Heck, talk to forestry consultants, they will tell you the same thing.

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