RFA shows how CARB didn’t want grain ethanol but it’s what it got

May 2, 2016 |

In Washington, the Renewable Fuels Association reviewed the California Air Resources Board’s quarterly update on the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and found regulated parties have reduced the carbon intensity of the state’s transportation fuels by a cumulative 16.55 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases (GHG) since enforcement began in 2011. While that’s an impressive accomplishment, the manner in which these reductions were achieved likely came as a surprise to CARB.

Grain-based ethanol has generated 7.58 MMT of CI reductions since the program’s inception, accounting for 46% of total LCFS credits and nearly 75% of credits in the gasoline pool. To date, grain ethanol has provided substantially more credits than any other fuel used under the LCFS.

Sugarcane and molasses-based ethanol has provided less than 0.80 MMT of CI reductions, making up less than 5%of total LCFS credits. Biodiesel use has provided 2.73 MMT of LCFS credits, with corn distillers oil-derived biodiesel making up roughly one-third of that total. Renewable diesel, much of which is imported from overseas, accounts for 2.76 MMT of credits. Liquid biofuels are responsible for 87% of total LCFS credits, with fossil-and bio-based compressed natural gas accounting for another 8%.

Electricity for transportation has been responsible for just 4% of total credits, and much of that has come from electrified rail transit, forklifts, and other industrial applications. In 2009, CARB projected that a total of 130,000-360,000 plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles (EVs) would be buzzing along California roadways by 2015. But data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) shows total cumulative nationwide sales of EVs at 395,000 through 2015. It seems highly unlikely that up to 90% of the entire nation’s EVs are in California. The data also show EV sales dropped from 2014 to 2015—the first year-over-year decrease since EVs hit the market. Hydrogen has provided 0.00004% of credits.

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Category: Policy

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