Foreign Policy Blogs

California Rules

California Rules

How can you not love California if you’re an environmentalist?  I’ve lauded the Golden State a few times here for its forward-thinking, smart, and economically advantageous approach to power, transportation, planning, building and curtailing greenhouse gases.  The federal government has so many times taken California’s lead, most recently in pumping up the Corporate Average Fuel Economy required for cars sold in the U.S.  We were talking in one of my classes the other day too about how California has made energy efficiency a priority and controlled its electricity consumption since the mid-1970s far beyond what has happened in the rest of the country.

California has taken another giant leap for mankind with the adoption of its new Advanced Clean Cars program.  The LA Times reports here that “By 2025, one in seven new autos sold in California, or roughly 1.4 million, must be ultra-clean, moving what is now a driving novelty into the mainstream.”  What is ultra-clean?  Electric vehicles, cars powered by fuel cells, and plug-in hybrid vehicles.  Californians will be once again setting the pace.

Meanwhile, the state has also tried to move forward with a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS).  The Washington Post explains here that “The new standards assign carbon intensity values to roughly 250 types of crude (higher carbon) along with other fuels — including ethanol, electricity and hydrogen, all lower carbon— that power cars and trucks.”  The aim is to reduce the carbon content of the fuel over time.  U.S. law, not incidentally, takes it a step further in barring all purchases by the federal government of any fuel that exceeds the greenhouse gas footprint of conventionally sourced oil.  This is embodied in Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  The Sierra Club is pursuing a case in court now to enforce this rule.  The European Union is taking a similar approach with its Fuel Quality Directive which would, if fully implemented and enforced, bar Canadian tar sands oil from use.

California is being held up because of a court case in which a federal judge has barred the rule from coming into effect.  However, the WaPo article notes that Mary Nichols, head of the California Air Resources Board, has said that amendments that the Board has made recently will satisfy the court’s concerns.  See a video on the program at the LCFS web page and how it is integrated into the overall approach the good people of California are taking to maximize health and prosperity while minimizing the costs, environmental and economic, of business as usual.






Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change