SACRAMENTO, CA --- The state of California on April 23 adopted the world's first regulation to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the fuel that runs cars and trucks.
The new rule, which the Air Resources Board approved by a 9-1 vote, is expected to slash California's gasoline consumption by one-fourth in the next decade, the Los Angeles Times reported. The rule's intent is to expand the market for electric and hydrogen-fueled vehicles and to promote development of new biofuels to replace corn-based ethanol as well as oil.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the new standard, saying it would not only reduce global warming but "reward innovation, expand consumer choice and encourage the private investment we need to transform our energy infrastructure."
Schwarzenegger also noted that 16 other states have turned to California as a model and that President Obama has called for a national standard.
The new state regulation requires that gasoline and diesel producers, refiners and importers reduce the carbon footprint of their fuel by 10 percent over the next decade, the Los Angeles Times reported. Moreover, the state must reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by mid-century.
Before the vote, scores of industry executives and environmental activists testified during a public hearing in Sacramento. The standard drew sharp criticism from corn ethanol producers who asserted that it unfairly exaggerated the effects of using food crops for energy. The regulation calculates the life cycle of fuels from their extraction or cultivation to their combustion, and corn ethanol industry representatives questioned the accuracy of the calculation methods used. On the other hand, some environmentalists at the meeting said that the rule didn't go far enough in questioning the land-use effects of ethanol from nonfood crops such as switch grass or farmed trees, the Times reported.
"Now we are creating the framework for a new way of looking at automotive fuels," said Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary D. Nichols. "No longer will petroleum be the only game in town."