California adopts new fuel standards

Air-quality regulators in the American state of California have adopted a first-in-the-nation mandate requiring low-carbon fuels, part of the state’s wider effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the Associated Press reported. The standards are expected to create a new market for alternative fuels and could serve as a template for a national policy.


State governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said the move by the California Air Resources Board would “reward innovation, expand consumer choice and encourage the private investment we need to transform our energy infrastructure”.


The rules call for reducing the carbon content of fuels sold in the state by 10% by 2020, a plan that includes counting all the emissions required to deliver petrol (gasoline) and diesel to California consumers — from drilling a new oil well or planting corn to transporting fuel to petrol stations. Transportation accounts for 40% of greenhouse-gas emissions in California.


Representatives of the ethanol industry have criticised the new rules, saying regulators overstated the environmental effects of corn-based ethanol. They also have objected to the air resources board’s intention to link global deforestation and other land conversions to US biofuel production.


Under the low-carbon fuel standards, petroleum refiners, companies that blend fuel and distributors must increase the cleanliness of the fuels they sell in California beginning in 2011. The petroleum industry warned that the state was moving too quickly without assurances that the alternative fuels they will be required to sell would be available for the market.


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