Eleven states commit to working on LCFS

By Holly Jessen | February 09, 2010
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After nearly two years of work on the issue, 11 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states have committed to developing a framework for a regional low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) by 2011.

The project started in July 2008, when Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick invited other area governors to evaluate the possibility of implementing a LCFS. That step led to 11 governors on Dec. 30 signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to do just that.

The MOU has been signed by Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. The states include the 10 members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, plus Pennsylvania. RGGI is a regional emissions reduction program that limits emissions from power plants.

The governor of Massachusetts contacted fellow governors after Massachusetts established an advanced biofuels taskforce, said Robert Keough, spokesman for Massachusetts' executive office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The final report had numerous recommendations, one of which was to establish a regional LCFS. During the summer of 2008, Massachusetts legislators passed the Clean Energy Biofuels Act, which required a LCFS. "Those were the two driving elements in Massachusetts taking the lead on this initiative," Keough said.

The goal is to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles and, possibly, home heating fuels. To achieve this goal, the states signing the MOU will evaluate and develop a framework for the program as well as a model law and key program elements that could be adopted by state rulemaking procedures or legislation.

The regional group doesn't want to target a specific fuel or technology. "We want to open up the playing field for the market to find the most cost-effective means of meeting that goal," Keough said. One way to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions could be electrification of vehicles. Cellulosic ethanol is also high on the list. "We think that's going to be an important piece of the puzzle," Keough said.
Under the MOU, signatory states have committed to provide data for an economic analysis that will assess existing and potential fuels that could be used to achieve the LCFS goals. The states also have committed to determining the carbon intensity of fuels based on the best available science, including emissions resulting from land use changes attributable to fuel production.

According to information released by Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell, the joint effort to establish a LCFS will promote the use of fuels that reduce GHG emissions, reduce exposure to gasoline price spikes, foster energy independence and create new jobs through clean energy technologies. GHG represents approximately 30 percent of emissions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, according to Rell. Studies have shown a regional LCFS could significantly reduce transportation-related GHG emissions. "This agreement puts the participating Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states on the low-carbon road to the future," Rell said. "These 11 states will create a larger market for cleaner fuels, which could help drive down prices when compared to the costs of boutique' markets created when states act independently. It will also reduce emissions associated with climate change."

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell echoed his colleagues, saying that a regional LCFS is expected to spur economic growth related to the development of advanced technologies and green energy jobs, while facilitating the long-term transition from petroleum-based fuels in the transportation sector.