California became the first state in the nation Thursday to mandate carbon-based reductions in transportation fuels in an attempt to cut the state's overall greenhouse gas emissions.
The California Air Resources Board approved a phased-in reduction starting in 2011, with a goal of shrinking carbon impacts 10 percent by 2020. Fuel producers can comply in different ways, such as providing a cleaner fuel portfolio, blending low-carbon ethanol with gasoline or purchasing credits from other clean-energy producers.
California's low-carbon fuel standard could lead to a national measure under President Barack Obama, as well as shape how the transportation sector evolves. But businesses and oil industry critics warned that more research is necessary and that its action would lead to higher costs for consumers in a recessionary economy.
Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols hailed the low-carbon fuel standard as a major step in moving the nation away from oil dependence and toward alternative fuels that generate lower greenhouse-gas emissions.
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"By changing the way we think about fuels and requiring them all to be lower carbon, I think we are now finally creating an opportunity for other types of advanced transportation to compete on a level playing field," Nichols said.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the air board in 2007 to consider a low-carbon fuel standard as a way to meet the state's overall goal of cutting greenhouse gases 25 percent by 2020, as mandated by a 2006 law.
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