New California “low carbon fuel standards” expected to “transform energy industries”

The University of California today released a blueprint today that will fight global warming by forcing reductions in the amount of carbon released when fuels are burned.

The new “low carbon fuel standard” is expected to be a model for future laws adopted in other states and around the world. The new standard was commissioned in January by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“It will likely transform the energy industries. And the 10 percent reduction is just the beginning. We anticipate much greater reductions after 2020,” said Daniel Sperling, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis. “This new policy is hugely important, and has never been done before.”

Some of the highlights of this report are:

All gasoline and diesel fuel providers would be required to track the life-cycle global warming intensity (GWI) of their products and reduce this value over time. (The term “life cycle” refers to all activities included in the production, transport, storage and use of the fuel.)

The report recommends that gasoline and diesel fuel providers reduce their carbon footprint both by blending lower-carbon biofuels with gasoline, as well as through purchasing emissions credits from other producers. They will also be able to get credit for purchasing energy to run their refineries from low-carbon, alternative energy sources.

It’s expected that electricity, natural gas and hydrogen-based energy providers will get involved by earning and selling emissions credits to refineries.

For car owners, it’s expected that the new standard will increase their options for fueling their cars — from biofuels to hydrogen to electric vehicle charging stations.

The new standard also recommends the state of California work to make sure sensitive lands aren’t converted to biofuel production.

Information on the new report can be found on U Cal Berkeley’s news and media site.

Presidential Candidate Barak Obama recently recommended that the US adopt a national law based on this new standard and recently introduced legislation to establish a National Low-Carbon Fuel Standard.

Here’s a link to the original report in PDF format. [PDF]

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