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National Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Technical Analysis Report


Research Report

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

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Suggested Citation:
Yeh, Sonia, Daniel Sperling, Miroslav Batka, Michael Griffin, David Heres Del Valle, Haixiao Hung, Madhu Khanna, Matthew Kocoloski, Paul Leiby, Gouri Shankar Mishra, Siwa Msangi, Kimberly Mullins, Hayri Onal, Nathan C. Parker, James Rhodes, Jonathan D. Rubin, Aranya Venkatesh, Julie Witcover, Christopher Yang (2012) National Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Technical Analysis Report. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-12-11

Petroleum fuels make up essentially all of the transportation fuels used today. But fossil fuel use has many economic and environmental downsides, including a weakening of our energy security due to reliance on imported energy sources, air pollution that impacts health, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to climate change. To reduce fossil fuel use and GHG emissions in the transportation sector and improve energy security requires a coordinated effort to reduce travel demand, improve vehicle efficiency, and switch to cleaner, lower-carbon fuels. Here we focus on switching to new fuels and examine the potential role a national low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) can play in bringing this about.

This report analyzes the costs and benefits of a national LCFS policy, together with or in place of the existing national Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). The companion report, National Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Policy Design Recommendations (PDR), suggests how best to design an LCFS. Both consider the possibility of an LCFS replacing or being adopted alongside RFS2.

Keywords: transportation, fuel policy, greenhouse gas emissions, energy security, indirect land use change, electric vehicles, performance standard