Thursday, December 13, 2007

Low Carbon Fuels memo by S.A.V.E. Foundation, 501(c)(3)

A low carbon fuels standard was recently added to Lieberman-Warner Climate Change bill in the U.S. Senate. This is being hailed as a very important environmental component to the bill, which has now passed the Senate's Environmental and Public Works Committee and will be heard on the floor sometime next year.

It sets a positive precedent for legislation dealing with alternative transportation fuels. S.A.V.E. is proud to have been a resource for this amendment and to have been of the primary proponents for Low Carbon Fuel recommendation in the Montana Climate Change Advisory Committee. The following memo has more details.

- The S.A.V.E Foundation, 501(c)(3)

Memo: Low Carbon Fuels Standard for Montana / RE: Montana Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCAC)


Matthew A. Elsaesser, Executive Director

(Member of Transportation and Land Use working group for MT CCAC)

Tyler Evilsizer, Policy Coordinator

Board of Directors

S.A.V.E. Lobbyist 2007 Session

The S.A.V.E. Foundation, 501(c)(3)

Box 1481, Helena, MT 59624

406.431.0815 /

Matt Elsaesser is founder and executive director of The Student Advocates for Valuing the Environment (S.A.V.E.) Foundation.  S.A.V.E. works on education and environmental policy in Helena and throughout Montana. S.A.V.E.'s Biodiesel Montana advocacy program has crossed the state on 100% homemade biodiesel and been a resource to citizens and policy makers throughout Montana. The S.A.V.E. Foundation drafted the Low Carbon Fuels Standard for the Transportation and Land Use working group for the Montana Climate Change Advisory Committee, on which Matt served.


A Low Carbon Fuel Standard is designed to reduce the content of Greenhouse Gases in transportation fuels. Montana's Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCAC) recently recommended policies related to Low Carbon Fuels and recommended the adoption of a Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

A Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is based on the net amount of carbon transportation fuels emit per unit of energy they provide. This standard ensures better accounting of fuel and policy impacts, both in terms of environmental objectives and economic ramifications. A LCFS will promote the development of alternative fuels, which are being developed in order to reduce the nation’s dependence on petroleum, reduce emissions associated with global warming.

A low carbon fuel standard will evolve with emerging technologies and new crops, such as the processing of agricultural waste into cellulosic ethanol or camelina oil-seed into biodiesel. In California, where it was first introduced, LCFS was heralded as a "market-driven" approach that allows refiners and automakers to find their own solutions rather than government dictating technologies. Fuel providers may mix and match various strategies to meet the standards and take advantage of new technologies as they are developed.

The Montana CCAC sought specific policy options to support renewable fuels in Montana that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. From its initial deliberations , the Transportation and Land Use working group of the CCAC looked to a LCFS as valuable mechanism to reduce CO2 emissions from transportation fuel and at the same support Montana agriculture and Montana’s rural economy.

Recent Events in Montana

During the 2007 Montana Legislature, a standard to include 2-5% Biodiesel in all diesel fuel passed through the Senate with bipartisan support.  The bill stalled in a House Committee, largely due to the opposition of the trucking industry, which supports a 5% standard at the national level but was concerned about a “patchwork” of state regulations. Montana's producer tax credit was extended.

The Montana Climate Change Advisory Council released their final report in November 2007. It evaluated strategies for the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions considering Governor Schweitzer’s charge to “save money, conserve energy, and bolster the Montana economy.” Among its proposals were AFW-2, AFW-3 (which focused on promoting biodiesel and ethanol production), and TLU-6, which presented a recommended Low Carbon Fuels Standard to increase consumption of low-carbon fuels.

From executive summary on Transportation and Land Use policy option 6 (low carbon fuels) by the Montana Climate Change Advisory Committee:

The CCAC recommends that Montana seek to increase the use and market penetration of low carbon fuels (LCFs) to offset traditional fossil fuels such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and others derived from crude oil. Additionally, the policy aims to increase production opportunities for LCFs derived from Montana crops and other low carbon transportation alternatives such as hydrogen, natural gas, and electricity. TLU-6 will evaluate the merits of LCFs based on their net carbon impact and will remain consistent with Agriculture, Forestry, and Waste Management Policy Option 2 (AFW-2), which increases biodiesel production in the state. Various options or a combination of options to increase LCF use would include:

• Carbon fuel accounting,

• Fuel quality standards,

• LCF infrastructure development,

• LCF standard and credits for compliance,

• High carbon fuel tax,

• State government fleet ‘leadership’ programs for adoption of LCFs, and

• Carbon reduction requirements.

LCFs demonstrate tangible economic benefits to rural economies. An LCF policy provides for strong, proactive measures to address economic and environmental issues where agricultural concerns yearn for economic sustenance and higher crop prices, or new and higher paying industry jobs to sustain the existing economy.

[Full document at]

Montana Crops for Low Carbon Fuels:

Cellulosic Ethanol:  Agricultural Waste

Biodiesel: Canola, *Camelina, Mustard, Safflower, Sunflower

* Camelina is currently one of the crops with the highest potential for Montana growers, especially for dry land farming in Eastern Montana. Camelina does not require large amounts of water, has natural resistance to weeds (allelopathy), a short growing season, and has several developing markets (. Spring and winter crops are available. (Crops for Biodiesel Research in Montana: Camelina presentation by Duane Johnson) As a relatively new crop, camelina is not yet eligible for traditional crop insurance. Montana officials are working to address this challenge and promote the economics of biofuels in Montana.

More on LCFS:

- Low Carbon Fuels could potentially impact biofuels, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG), hydrogen (H2), solar and electricity. Biofuels, especially biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol currently provide the strongest possibility for net CO2 reductions in transportation fuels. Other opportunities, such as biobutanol and biodiesel from algae could diversify our transportation fuel infrastructure.

- Links to studies on low carbon fuels from California State:

- Help ensure environmental merits of alternative fuels by factoring in transportation emissions (non-domestic fuels crossing oceans rather than being used locally) and negative agricultural practices (rain forest destruction for palm oil).

- "We've got to do something (energy independence), we've got to make sure we do it right" - Montana Farmer at S.A.V.E. Biodiesel Montana event

Carbon Intensity in the U.S. Economy:

Our GDP has grown favorably relative to our energy use, but the carbon intensity of our energy resources has been less impressive. Low carbon fuels represent opportunity for our rural agricultural economies and an opportunity to address increasing carbon emissions in the transportation sector.

Here is a good link that documents this trend: EIA - Trends in U.S. Carbon Intensity

Labels: , ,