New CARB regulations challenged by Environmentalists, Industry, California

By Automotive Staff | April 23, 2009
It could be argued that environmentalism started out in the west. Have you ever flown into Los Angeles, California and peered out of the window to see smog gathering above the San Fernando Valley? It’s enough to make anyone concerned. So the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the agency that has the authority to do something about the pollution problem in the state, has been becoming ever more stringent about its regulations as the years have gone by. Now it is 2009. CARB is about to release new regulations that will affect the fuels that are sold in the state. The new rules are said to discourage even more the use of oil and boost the use of alternative fuels like ethanol, biodiesel, and natural gas. The rule, called “The Low Carbon Fuel Standard," will focus on the carbon footprint left by certain types of fuels. Starting in 2011, the standard would steadily reduce the allowable “carbon intensity” of fuels. By 2020, fuel refiners and distributors in California will have to cut the carbon intensity of their fuels by 10 percent. The rule takes into account not only the amount of carbon the fuel itself causes when burned in a vehicle, but the amount of carbon created in the production of the fuel and the damage to the environment caused by the harvesting of the fuel sources. The latter has caused problems with a variety of factions including environmentalists, ethanol producers, scientists, economists and oil companies. Ethanol producers, for example, do not like the idea that the regulations "blame" ethanol made from corn for the deforestation of land in the developing countries. Moreover, large amounts of land need to be tilled, tended and harvested and this burns diesel in farm machinery. Nevermind the finished fuel has to be transported to California which consumes even more diesel causing more carbon emissions. Meanwhile, the Canadian government isn’t too happy about the regulations because it could affect the sale of oil reclaimed from tar sands. Our take? So obviously there is a big brouhaha over the new regulations. And it could get even bigger because other states, the federal government and the European Union are considering using the California standards. via San Francisco Chronicle