The California Air Resources Board voted Friday to amend the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) to streamline procedures and clarify language. (Earlier post.) The LCFS intends to reduce, on a full-fuel lifecycle basis, the carbon intensity (CI) of transportation fuels (measured in gCO2e/MJ) used in California by an average of 10% by the year 2020. (Earlier post.)
One key amendment will improve how the regulation accounts for the carbon intensity of crude oils. The carbon intensity of crudes can vary significantly with heavy crudes generally having a higher carbon footprint (high carbon-intensity crude oil, HCICO). The amendment requires that the carbon intensity of crudes be fully accounted for just like other fuels under the program. The provision also incentivizes innovation by providing credits for specific actions to reduce the carbon intensity of crude oil.
The amendments also clarify which regulated parties receive low carbon fuel credits for the electricity used to charge electric vehicles.
For residential charging, the electric utilities will be eligible for the credits, as they appear best suited to send the credit value back to electric vehicle owners in the form of rebates, time-of-use rates or other incentives. For public access charging, companies that install and service charging units in public settings such as malls or parking structures may receive the related credits. Finally, businesses that install private access charging stations for employees, or fleet operators that operate at least three electric vehicles may also be eligible for credits.
Regulated facilities began operating under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard in April of 2010. The Air Resources Board estimates the Low Carbon Fuel Standard will achieve 15 million metric tons of greenhouse gas reduction by 2020. The standard is also expected to lead to replacement of the equivalent of up to four billion gallons of gasoline by then. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard is intended to drive the development of new fuels to help clean California’s air and protect the state from dramatic price spikes seen with petroleum.
The Low Carbon Fuel Standard is designed to work with California’s new Cap-and-Trade Program and the upcoming Advanced Clean Car regulations.