California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard Takes Shape

Drivers will be able to keep their gasoline-powered cars for many years, as fuel providers lower the global warming effects of gasoline, according to the first detailed outline of California's new Low Carbon Fuel Standard released Thursday by University of California transportation energy experts.

The Low Carbon Fuel Standard was commissioned in January by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He asked the specialists to design a standard that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fuels by 10 percent by 2020.

Professor Alex Farrell, director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at UC Berkeley, and Professor Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis spelled out in detail how the standard will work in the second part of a two-part report.

"This new policy is hugely important, and has never been done before," said Sperling. "It will likely transform the energy industries. And the 10 percent reduction is just the beginning. We anticipate much greater reductions after 2020."

The Low Carbon Fuel Standard, designed to stimulate improvements in transportation fuel technologies, is expected to become the foundation for similar initiatives in other states, as well as national and international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In Part 1 of the report, completed in May, Farrell and Sperling evaluated the technical feasibility of achieving the 10 percent cut by 2020.

Based on six scenarios using different technologies, they concluded that the goal is ambitious but attainable.

At the end of June, the California Air Resources Board voted to start working toward that goal. The new standard is set to take effect by January 2010.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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