New 2018 data from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) indicates that the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) continues to drive production of a growing volume of cleaner transportation fuels for California consumers: to date almost 3.3 billion gallons of petroleum diesel have been displaced by clean, low-carbon alternatives which includes renewable natural gas (RNG). The 2018 data also shows fuel producers are in 100 percent compliance with the LCFS.
“Renewable and bio-diesel, renewable natural gas, ethanol, and electricity are all seeing growth under the LCFS,” said CARB Executive officer Richard W. Corey. “Californians have the widest variety of cleaner low-carbon vehicles available anywhere in the country. The LCFS is catalyzing investments in these cleaner alternative fuels, providing consumers with more choices and reducing emissions of toxic pollutants and greenhouse gases. These are key reasons why other states and nations are establishing similar programs.”
The program aims to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by considering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at all stages of production, from extraction to combustion. CARB developed the program to help support a return to 1990 levels of climate-changing gases by 2020, as required by AB 32, the 2006 landmark climate bill. California reached that overall goal in 2016.
Now a climate target of an additional 40 percent overall reduction of climate-changing gases is in place for 2030, under SB 32. To help California reach that goal, CARB built on the success of the LCFS by doubling the required reduction level and setting a 2030 target for vehicle fuels of 20-percent less carbon than is now found in gasoline and diesel fuel. Those cleaner fuels will displace millions more gallons of fossil fuels, helping pave the way for California to achieve full carbon neutrality by 2045.
The standard provides consumers with a growing variety and volume of cleaner fuels. Renewable liquid fuels displaced over 568 million gallons of diesel in 2018. Nearly 120 million gallons of diesel were displaced by renewable natural gas, and electricity displaced about 96 million gallons of petroleum.
Compliance Proves Success
The 100 percent compliance rate is further proof of the success of the program. Of the 317 companies reporting under the program, the vast majority supplied sufficient amounts of clean fuels to meet the 2018 standard; however, 52 companies generated deficits for supplying fuels that were dirtier than the program benchmark. Those companies were required to make up for their shortfall by purchasing credits from fuel providers who had supplied cleaner fuels.
Since its start in 2011 the program has generated credits representing a total reduction of 47.1 million metric tons of climate-changing gases. That equals an over-compliance of 8.7 million metric tons, meaning that greenhouse gas reductions under this program have been occurring ahead of schedule. Those clean fuels also reduced emissions of toxic pollutants as well as those that cause smog.
The LCFS works with other groundbreaking California GHG reduction programs to reduce emissions across the economy. These include the cap-and-trade program, the Advanced Clean Car program and the Renewable Portfolio Standard.
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