ITS-Davis leads report outlining a national low carbon fuel standard

The UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, which helped California create the nation’s first low carbon fuel standard in 2009, has joined five other leading research institutions in releasing a series of studies designed to establish a national standard.

In a bipartisan briefing in Washington, D.C., the researchers said that a national standard will ensure fuels of the future are cleaner, cheaper and “made in America.”

“A national low carbon fuel standard is a promising framework to help solve the transportation energy challenges that have eluded us for several decades,” said Daniel Sperling, director of the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. “Technologically, such a standard is very doable. And it can help us address the complex choices with conventional oil, shale gas, oil sands, biofuels, and electric vehicles.”

Joining the scientists at the briefing were representatives of the automobile, electric utility, and biofuels industries.

A low carbon fuel standard, designed to reduce the amount of carbon in transportation fuels, would require all energy companies to meet a common target for carbon intensity but leave it up to the companies to decide how to reach that goal. So, for example, an oil company might choose to diversify into electric or hydrogen fuels. It might add more low-carbon biofuels to its mix of offerings. Or it might buy credits from companies that specialize in low-carbon fuels, or that can lower the carbon intensity of their fuels more efficiently.

The peer-reviewed reports will be published in an upcoming special issue of the Energy Policy Journal, from science and health publisher Elsevier.

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Photo: Dan Sperling and co-authors at July 19, 2012, briefing in Washington, D.C. (UC Davis)