Calif.'s Fuel Efficiency Proposal Infuriates Ethanol Industry

California released a draft of its plan to cut carbon emissions by 10% by 2020. The plan involves promoting the use of alternative energy and limiting fossil fuels. It’s a comprehensive plan that doesn’t just want to reduce the emissions coming from tailpipes. It wants to cut out emissions from the cradle to grave of fuel development.

By doing that, the plan jacks up the cost for ethanol producers:

SF Chronicle: Supporters see the standard as a way to start weaning California off gasoline and encourage the use of alternatives such as ethanol and biodiesel. But it would discourage some forms of ethanol, in particular ethanol made from corn in the Midwest.

That’s because the board’s staff examined the greenhouse gases released during every step of fuel production, as well as the indirect effects that biofuels can have on land use. By that standard, Midwestern ethanol used in California releases more heat-trapping carbon dioxide for every unit of energy than does regular gasoline made in the state, according to the board.

“There are some instances where the production of certain fuels – such as sugar cane in Brazil or palm oil in other parts of the world – replaces food production and drives the conversion of other habitats into food production,” air board spokesman Stanley Young said. “And when you do that, it increases carbon dioxide emissions.”

Tom Koehler, spokesman for Pacific Ethanol, told the LA Times this proposal is “a perversion of science and a prescription for disaster.” Pacific Ethanol recently had to halt operations at two plants in Idaho and California. Obviously, the company doesn’t want any more headaches. But after multiple studies this year have shown that corn ethanol is not a better fuel environmentally or economically, Pacific might not be able to avoid such headaches.


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