West Coast Proves Successful for Biodiesel

Nearly a decade ago, California embarked upon a landmark climate initiative commonly referred to as AB (Assembly Bill) 32. The law requires greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions to 1990 levels by 2020 – a reduction of approximately 15 percent below expected emissions in a “business as usual” scenario. AB 32 includes a number of ambitious climate programs that call for reductions in every sector of the economy. The state’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) focuses on transportation.

“Over the past four years of the LCFS, the California biomass-based diesel market has grown from 10 million to 200 million gallons,” said Don Scott, National Biodiesel Board (NBB) director of sustainability. “This shows how successful carbon policies can be at spurring growth in clean fuels like biodiesel.”

In part because of the success demonstrated in California, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Commission voted unanimously in December 2015 to finalize the state’s Clean Fuels Program to implement a comprehensive low carbon fuels policy for transportation. The policy is modeled closely after the California LCFS and will reduce GHG emissions 10 percent by 2025.

Rather than conducting its own lifecycle analysis, Oregon will generally use the values created in California, which have concluded that biodiesel decreases GHG emissions by 50 to 80 percent. Oregon’s announcement leaves Washington as the only state on the West Coast without a program to reduce GHG emissions. British Columbia, Canada, has also adopted low carbon transportation policies, translating to approximately five billion gallons of diesel that are now under low carbon fuel policies on the West Coast.

NBB has concentrated significant resources over the past eight years to ensure biodiesel participates in these programs. The technical data developed by NBB played a significant role in the determinations by the California Air Resources Board confirming that biodiesel reduces GHG emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared to petroleum diesel.

“Quantifying the precise carbon intensity of fuel from varying feedstocks, geographies, and process technologies does not happen without significant investment in data and scientific analysis,” Scott said. “Lifecycle assessment is a complex undertaking that required participation from diverse stakeholders such as the California Biodiesel Alliance, the environmental community, and NBB members.”

February 2016 RENDER | back