Low Carbon Fuel Standards

Biofuels like bioethanol are low-carbon fuels. Jurisdictions across the U.S. are considering their own low-carbon fuel standards (LCFS) and how they decide to structure their LCFS will determine whether or not bioethanol can play a role in reducing each state’s emissions. Every policymaker should ensure their LCFS embraces biofuels and allows for the inclusion of on-the-farm carbon accounting, as well as emissions reductions from carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS).

The Asks

  • Policymakers across the country must ensure that use of biofuels like bioethanol (and biofuel blends like E15) can be maximized to help local, state, and federal policymakers ensure compliance with low carbon fuel standards (LCFS).
  • Rely on accurate, up-to-date lifecycle analysis (LCA) modeling such as the Argonne GREET model that accounts for every reduction that biorefiners make in their overall carbon intensity.
    • LCFS modeling should be granular and allow the inclusion of on-the-farm carbon accounting as well as emission reductions from carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS).

What Are Low Carbon Fuel Standards?

Low-carbon fuel standards (LCFS) are policies that aim to limit or decrease the carbon intensity of a given jurisdiction’s fuel pool. The most noteworthy LCFS is California’s, which is the oldest LCFS in the world (not just the U.S.) and which has served as a model for other jurisdictions seeking to limit the overall emissions of on-road transportation. Bioethanol is a low-carbon fuel, so when the most accurate and up-to-date science is used, biofuels like ethanol can help policymakers achieve the goals of LCFS policies. However, their acceptance as a solution has been threatened by a reliance on questionable and outdated lifecycle analyses.

Is California the Only State with a Low Carbon Fuel Standard?

Currently, California, Oregon, and Washington have an LCFS on the books, but New York, Illinois, Michigan, and Massachusetts have initiatives that would enact similar standards. Growth Energy has been a part of these efforts and continues to advocate for any LCFS that recognizes the full extent of biofuels’ impact on lowering carbon emissions.

What Impact Would Growth Energy’s Policy Priorities Have on Consumers, the Economy, or the Environment?

Biofuels like ethanol can help achieve the goals of any LCFS, provided that jurisdictions rely on the most accurate LCA modeling that demonstrates the true emissions-reducing power of these liquid fuels.