Environmental Defense Praises California's Low Carbon Fuel Proposal to Reduce Global Warming Emissions, Improve Energy Security

January 9, 2007


Jennifer Witherspoon, (415) 216-9598, jwitherspoon@environmentaldefense.org
Sean Crowley, (510) 457-2232, scrowley@environmentaldefense.org

(Sacramento, CA - January 9, 2007) - According to a briefing by administration officials today, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will call later today for the unprecedented creation of a low carbon fuel standard as part of the state’s efforts to limit global warming emissions.

“Once again, Governor Schwarzenegger and the State of California are pioneering new markets that will unleash the power of the private sector to combat global warming,” said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense, which cosponsored AB 32, the state’s landmark global warming legislation. “And, for the first time, the fuels we all use will be part of the solution – as they should be.”

Biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel have the potential to contribute greatly toward battling climate change and strengthening energy security. But realizing this potential requires a way to evaluate fuels using the one criterion that addresses both issues: measuring carbon by per unit of energy (BTU). The governor’s proposed standard will result in at least a 10% reduction of carbon dioxide in all fuels in California by 2020 — with the metric of measure being CO2 equivalent/BTU.

“There are many ways to get to low carbon fuels,” said David Yarnold, executive vice president of Environmental Defense. “One of the more exciting options using existing, available technology today is using manure from California’s dairy industry to serve as a fuel source for making ethanol instead of coal or natural gas. Since methane is 21 times more potent than the leading greenhouse gas, avoiding methane emissions will dramatically bring down the carbon content of fuels.”

The historic fuels standard will be implemented though regulations developed by the California Air Resources Board under AB 32, which the governor signed into law in September. That law will limit the state’s global warming emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and institute a mandatory emissions reporting system to monitor compliance. Read AB 32 summary [PDF]

“The critical thing that California has done today is to start the low carbon fuels race,” added Krupp. “Now, there is a reason and a real incentive to start measuring all fuels by their carbon content, a measure that is bound to benefit ethanol and biodiesel.”

“California’s action signals the beginning of a whole new era for fuels and for renewable energy,” concluded Yarnold. “What is so exciting about the California action today is that it launches a market for fuels that are made from ultra-efficient methods, begins to help reduce climate change, and gets us closer than ever to our nation’s energy security goals.”