11 Eastern States Commit to Regional Low Carbon Fuel Standard

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, January 6, 2009 (ENS) – Pennsylvania has signed a letter of agreement with 10 other eastern states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels and other sources by developing a regional low carbon fuel standard.

Vehicles using low carbon transport fuels include cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells; electric cars such as plug-in hybrids; cars fueled with ethanol, especially cellulosic ethanol made from non-food plant materials; and cars fueled with biodiesel.

“This partnership will work closely on a standard for the entire region,” said Governor Ed Rendell on Monday, announcing the agreement. “In conjunction with Pennsylvania’s energy policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase clean energy development, this work done by this partnership will ultimately grow our economy and protect our planet by fostering a cleaner environment.”

The other states in on the agreement are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The 11 states already are partners in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI, the first mandatory, market-based effort in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The push towards a regional low carbon fuel standard started in June 2008 when Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick sent a letter to the governors of all 10 RGGI states inviting them to cooperate on a standard that would apply to the entire region. Massachusetts committed to developing a low carbon fuel standard for the state last April.

“The response to Governor Patrick’s call for a regional low carbon fuel standard by our neighbor states has been tremendous,” said Massachusetts Energy Secretary Ian Bowles.

“Working together, the 11 states from Maine to Delaware will cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, spur the development of clean energy technologies like advanced biofuels and electric cars, and reduce our dependence on petroleum,” said Bowles.

Ron Yerxa, center, and wife Annette Ballester get a lesson from Tim Cunningham, Honda fuel cell vehicle program consultant, on how to refuel
their new hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle, July 2008 in West Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy Honda)

“After power generation, transportation is the next logical target for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and a low carbon fuel standard gives us a market-based mechanism to get the environmental results we need,” said Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Laurie Burt.

The 11 states will collaborate with the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, which has been studying a low carbon fuel standard for the region. The eastern states also have agreed to work cooperatively with other states and the federal government, and to influence the design of any federal standard or other proposed fuel policy.

In January 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger established the world’s first low carbon fuel standard by Executive Order.

“I applaud these 11 Eastern states for recognizing the power of California’s groundbreaking low carbon fuel standard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and oil dependency while rewarding innovation and expanding consumer choice,” Schwarzenegger said Monday.

“Like California, these other states are leading the way in recognizing that we must take action now to fight global warming, and I look forward to working together to find additional solutions like the LCFS that both protect our environment and grow our economy at the same time.”

Once the low carbon fuel standard is developed for the eastern region, governors from participating states will have the opportunity to consider implementation.

Fuels that may reduce greenhouse gas emissions include advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol, which have lower lifecycle carbon emissions and may be less likely to cause indirect effects from crop diversion and land use changes than biofuels on the market today such as ethanol made from corn.

Many of the 11 states in the partnership have set individual policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Pennsylvania enacted the Climate Change Act last year, establishing an advisory committee to create a report on potential climate change impacts and economic opportunities for the commonwealth.

The committee also will write an action plan for cost-effective strategies to reduce or offset the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and help the Department of Environmental Protection, DEP, compile an annual inventory of the sources and amounts of greenhouse gas emissions generated within the state.

DEP Acting Secretary John Hanger said, “By implementing the Climate Change Act, investing in alternative energy, and generating more of our energy needs from clean energy sources, Pennsylvania can reduce the air pollution emissions that lead to climate change.”

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