Research Dives Into The Effects Of A Low-Carbon Fuel Standard


The National LCFS Project, a group comprising scientists from six U.S.-based research institutions, has presented to Congress its findings after examining issues related to adopting a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) in the U.S. The collaborative says such a policy decision would result in a robust environment for cleaner, less expensive, domestically produced transportation fuels.

‘Technologically, an LCFS is very doable. And it can help us address the complex choices with conventional oil, shale gas, oil sands, biofuels and electric vehicles,’ says Dr. Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis.

An LCFS would require all energy companies to meet a common target for carbon intensity, but companies themselves would decide how to reach that goal.

Building on LCFS policies already adopted in Europe, British Columbia and California, the researchers looked at potential costs and benefits of reducing the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 10% to 15% by 2030. Researchers found an LCFS would buffer the economy against global oil price spikes, trim demand for petroleum, and lessen upward pressure on gas prices. It would also create opportunities for new fuels to compete in the marketplace.

‘A national Low Carbon Fuel Standard creates a strong market signal that attracts investment and spurs innovation in clean fuel technologies, increases consumption of clean fuels and lowers average consumer fuel prices, for a total savings of $411 billion by 2035 on fuel expenditures,’ says Dr. Madhu Khanna, professor of economics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Economics.

The peer-reviewed reports will be published in The Energy Policy Journal's upcoming special issue on low-carbon fuel policy. The National LCFS Project's researchers are from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of California, the University of Illinois, the University of Maine, Carnegie Mellon University, and the International Food Policy Research Institute.

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