Fuel standards bill’s implementation is vital to California

By Dr. James K. Brown

Oakland Tribune My Word © 2013 Bay Area News Group

August 6, 2013

One year ago Tuesday, a fire at Chevron’s Richmond oil refinery sent black smoke wafting across the East Bay.

Contra Costa Health Services asked residents to stay in their homes, close the windows, and wait it out. About 11,000 people sought medical treatment. Many suffered from eye, nasal and throat irritations that were short-lived. For those with pre-existing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, their cough and shortness of breath increased dramatically, sometimes for extended periods.

This refinery fire was a dramatic demonstration that air pollution is bad for our health. A more compelling concern is the evidence that chronic, low-level exposure to air pollution has serious long-lasting adverse effects, including stunting of lung growth and increasing asthma among children, premature death in those with chronic lung diseases, and heart attacks.

Scientific Review Finds Fatal Flaws with Oil Industry Study of AB32

An independent panel of scientific experts today reaffirmed that an oil industry association’s study of California’s landmark clean energy law (AB32), in particular the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, was flawed on a number of fronts, saying it did not “include a full accounting of the economic impacts, or the health and welfare impacts of the legislation on the broader population and economy of the state,” such as “positive effects on the health and welfare of the citizens of California that could result from the implementation of AB32.”

EVALUATING BCG’S REPORT: UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACTS OF AB32

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers contracted with the Policy Institute to facilitate an expert evaluation of the report “Understanding the Impacts of AB32” and the subsequent analysis “BCG and CARB LCFS Models: Review of impact of assumptions in three different areas”. These original reports were funded by WSPA and produced by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The stated scope and goals of the BCG report are as follows:

“We analyzed the likely impact of AB32 fuels policies on emissions and refining economics using proprietary BCG models. We then developed a framework to assess how these changes are likely to impact California’s economy along key dimensions including employment, government revenues, and GHG emissions.”

LCFS review drubs oil industry report: top 10 quotes

If you have been following events in California, oil refiners have been waging a well-funded war on California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which requires oil companies to reduce the carbon pollution from gasoline and diesel by 10 percent by 2020.

Centerpiece in their strategy was a June 2012 report from Boston Consulting Group (funded by the Western States Petroleum Association) that concluded that a full and continued implementation of the LCFS would leave refiners “no other option but to refuse to supply the United State’s largest transportation fuels market or to simply shut-down.”

Big Oil Prefers to Crush Renewables Rather Than Invest in Them

For awhile it looked like the oil giants were seriously diversifying into renewable energy, but that’s coming to an end.

BP dropped its long-standing solar and wind divisions, Shell focuses on how wind energy can assist fossil fuel extraction, and Exxon and Chevron have pulled back from biofuels.

Chevron Lobbies Against California Low-Carbon Rule

Chevron is leading a lobbying and public relations campaign to weaken California’s low-carbon fuel standard, a law the oil company once supported.

Chevron pledged in 2007, the same year California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the low-carbon fuel standard executive order, to develop a gasoline replacement from wood, Bloomberg reports.

A year later Chevron and forest products company Weyerhauser formed a joint venture, Catchlight Energy, to research and develop technology for converting cellulose-based biomass into economical, low-carbon biofuels.

Chevron Defies California On Carbon Emissions

Chevron Corp. (CVX) helped write the first-in-the-nation rule ordering reduced carbon emissions from cars and trucks. Its biofuels chief spoke at the ceremony where California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the executive order in 2007, the same year the oil company pledged to develop a gasoline replacement from wood.

Now Chevron is leading a lobbying and public relations campaign to undercut the California mandate aimed at curbing global warming, two years after the state started phasing it in. Research on commercially viable climate-friendly products has come to naught, stymied by the poor economics of coaxing hydrocarbons from plants’ stubborn cell walls, according to Chevron officials.

More Voices Emerge in Support of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard

In the past few weeks, California’s California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) received a heavy dose of positive news: strong support from major companies to develop cleaner transportation fuel options and solid evidence to prove the standard is working.

On April 2, major business interests and non-profit organizations across the state filed four separate briefs supporting the LCFS in the state Appeals Court in Fresno. The briefs, filed in response to a letter from the court in February, say definitively that the LCFS is a necessary program for California because it creates a market signal for new, cleaner fuels and solutions that can grow California’s economy and improve air quality.

Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Consumer choice is key to California success

“You can have any color Ford you want, as long as it’s black,” Henry Ford is famously credited with saying in the early years of the U.S. automobile industry, when Fords only came in one color.

Why so many color options today? Consumers. Consumers are one of the most powerful drivers of change on the planet. We vote with our wallets, and we vote with our values. And we have the power to make changes far greater than a car’s color.

Yet at the fuel pump, consumers still have no power. We all know our dependence on fossil fuels weakens our economy and security while threatening our environment. We simply feel powerless to address it because there is no true alternate choice.

 

Can we shift to renewable energy? Yes. As to how …

We will need fossil fuels like oil and gas for the foreseeable future. So there’s really little choice (sigh). We have to press ahead with fracking for natural gas. We must approve the Keystone XL pipeline to get Canadian oil.

This mantra, repeated on TV ads and in political debates, is punctuated with a tinge of inevitability and regret. But, increasingly, scientific research and the experience of other countries should prompt us to ask: To what extent will we really “need” fossil fuel in the years to come? To what extent is it a choice?