The California Air Resources Board formally considered the first 28 proposals for new ways to make low carbon transportation fuels under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). (Earlier post.) Data related to the manufacture and production of the proposed fuels were presented by staff to ARB Executive Officer James Goldstene at the first public hearing held to consider fuel production techniques not currently assigned a carbon intensity score in the LCFS regulation.
The Low Carbon Fuel Standard, approved in April 2009, requires that suppliers of transportation fuels meet an average declining standard of carbon intensity—expressed in terms of grams of CO2 equivalent per megajoule of fuel energy (g CO2e/MJ)—that will provide a 10% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions for all fuels used in California by 2020. The carbon intensity of a fuel is determined by the sum of all greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transportation, processing and consumption of a fuel (its pathway).
California’s standards were designed to drive innovation and invite companies to devise new low-carbon approaches to making alternative fuels. The fact that private companies are now approaching us with new methods of producing ethanol is proof that California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard is working exactly as advertised. Fuel suppliers know that California has established a large and certain market for low-carbon fuels though 2020, and we expect to see many more proposals for even cleaner fuels in the coming years.—ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols
The development of lower-carbon-intensity fuels for use by regulated parties is essential to the success of the LCFS. As new lower-carbon-intensity fuels are developed and approved, they are added to the LCFS Lookup Table for use by regulated parties under the LCFS. New pathways can be added to the LCFS Lookup Table in two ways: fuel providers may apply to ARB for new pathways under the regulatory “Method 2” process, and staff may develop new pathways internally. The Method 2 application process consists of two variants known as Methods 2A and 2B. Method 2A is reserved for applicants whose proposed pathways consist of modified versions of existing pathways. Method 2B, on the other hand, is reserved for entirely new fuels or production processes.
ARB Staff is seeking Executive Officer approval of a total of 28 new Method 2A, 2B, and ARB-developed pathways:
The three new staff-developed pathways are biodiesel from used cooking oil (with and without cooking), and corn oil biodiesel.
Eight new Midwest corn ethanol pathways proposed by Archer Daniels Midland describe a new very efficient plant using varying combinations of natural gas, coal, and biomass for process fuel.
11 new Midwest corn ethanol pathways proposed by POET LLC are included. Five pairs of these pathways differ only in the type of distillers’ grains with soluables (DGS, a co-product used as livestock feed) produced. Most pathways use a lower-energy raw starch hydrolysis process for initial cooking. All pathways use natural gas for process power, but some also use biogas. Some use combined heat and power while others use corn fractionation.
Three new pathways for hydrous Brazilian sugarcane ethanol dehydrated in the Caribbean basin under the terms of the Caribbean Basin Initiative are included.
Three new pathways for modern natural-gas-powered Midwestern dry mill corn ethanol plants are included. Green Plains Holdings, Lakota Division, Green Plains Central City LLC, and Louis Dreyfus Commodities each submitted one of these pathways.
ARB Staff is also evaluating the following additional applications which were not included in the hearing on 24 Feb:
Six corn ethanol applications representing 16 pathways;
Two applications for a total of five pathways using corn or sorghum, corn and sorghum, and a mix of corn, sorghum, and wheat slurry as ethanol feedstocks;
One application covering three pathways for Brazilian sugarcane ethanol dehydrated in the Caribbean Basin under the terms of the Caribbean Basin Initiative;
Four Brazilian sugarcane ethanol pathway applications for one pathway each;
One application for a single beverage-waste-to-ethanol pathway;
One application for a single ethanol pathway using molasses from the Indonesian sugar industry as a feedstock; and
One application for a single liquefied natural gas pathway.
In addition, staff is developing the following three internal priority pathways, which require additional analysis before they can be considered for final approval, and will therefore be considered at a future hearing:
Two Midwest dry mill natural-gas-powered sorghum ethanol pathways: one for dry distillers’ grains with solubles, and the other for wet distiller’s grains with soluble; and
Conversion of North American canola oil, extracted in Canada from Canadian-grown canola, to biodiesel.
The modifications to the staff proposal as discussed at the hearing will appear shortly in the form of amendments to the original Low Carbon Fuel Standard regulation that will allow for at least 15 days of public comment before final approval.
Staff Report: Initial Statement of Reasons for Proposed Rulemaking. Amendments to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard Regulation Carbon Intensity Lookup Tables