California replaces 50 percent of diesel, encouraging the use of diesel alternatives.
In the first quarter of 2023, California replaced 50% of diesel fuel used by clean fuel sources and diesel alternatives such as hydrogen and electricity.
A Problem Decades in the Making
Our world has a severe addiction to fossil fuels. This problem manifests itself in various ways, but one of the most prominent and visible ways we can see it is in air pollution.
The processes that are required to extract, transport, refine, and ultimately use fossil fuels generate a massive amount of emissions. When these processes are concentrated in a specific area, this creates smog, a form of air pollution in which the gases and smoke are visible to the human eye.
This has had massive detrimental effects in many places, mainly urban areas worldwide.
California is one of the significant examples of a place that has suffered from air pollution for decades. In the 1940s, after rapid industrial development, smog became such a severe issue for Californians that visibility became restricted to only a few blocks ahead, and respiratory problems increased rapidly.
In the 1950s, scientists became aware of how cars are a significant contributor to smog, and in 1967, the Mulford-Carrel Air Resources Act was passed, creating the California Air Resources Board (CARB). This was monumental, as this governmental body has the power and authority to regulate, set, and enforce air quality standards throughout the state.
While significant changes were made in the coming decades to reduce air pollution, significant problems still stand in the way of California having and maintaining clean air for its citizens.
However, in the first quarter of 2023, California hit a historic milestone in its battle against pollution. Due to a program called the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, 50% of diesel fuel in the state has been replaced by clean fuels.
How Was This Achieved?
Numerous different sources can create smog. While it still holds true that car emissions are a significant contributor to smog, there remains the problem of particulate matter pollution generated from sources other than cars.
Commercial trucks and large container ships run on diesel, and these machines often use the dirtiest diesel they can get their hands on due to the price being significantly lower than more refined and expensive gasoline.
This is why, beginning in 2006, a series of different programs were put in place by AB 32 (the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act). Some of these programs include the Cap-and-Trade program, which establishes a declining limit to emissions allowed in the state by businesses to pay for the pollution produced.
However, the focus is on the LCFS (Low Carbon Fuel Standard), as this program is credited with significantly reducing diesel emissions throughout the state using diesel alternatives.
Compliance with the program began in 2011, and it works by reducing carbon intensity by comparing it against an annually declining baseline. If the carbon producer exceeds the limit, that creates a deficit against the producer. If the carbon producer is under, that makes a credit that can be sold to a producer with a debt.
The LCFS helped to replace 2 billion gallons of diesel fuel in the state, with the diesel alternative replacement fuels being biodiesel, renewable diesel, electricity, and hydrogen. Since compliance began, the LCFS has helped to replace 8.6 billion gallons of diesel throughout the state.
This diesel alternative program has also had the added benefit of attracting hundreds of jobs and businesses to the state, pushing California to the top of the list of states poised to become significant leaders in the renewable energy sector in the USA.
Additional Work is Being Done
While this program is essential, California’s foot still needs to be on the accelerator, so to speak. Smog continues to be a problem in California, combined with global warming and uncontrolled wildfires.
This is why, in July, CARB announced the Clean Truck Partnership with the country’s leading truck manufacturers and promotes diesel alternatives. This continues to add momentum to the clean energy industry and the movement toward carbon neutrality.
Speaking on this, CARB Executive Officer Dr. Steven Cliff said, “A 50% reduction in diesel means cleaner air, healthier communities, and a commitment to reaching carbon neutrality in California by 2045.”