US “low carbon fuel standard” idea mooted

A group of US researchers are mooting the idea of a “low carbon fuel standard” or LCFS, where all energy companies have to meet a target for “carbon intensity” (amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy generated).

The researchers are from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of California, the University of Illinois, the University of Maine, Carnegie Mellon University, and the International Food Policy Research Institute. The results were presented at a meeting in Washington DC.

The idea is that energy companies could choose themselves which way they want to meet the target, for example an oil and gas company could put money into renewables or hydrogen fuels, or add biofuels to its offerings, or buy carbon credits.

“An LCFS encourages innovation and diversity by harnessing market forces,” said Dr. Jonathan Rubin, professor of economics at the University of Maine.


“These reports provide practical policy recommendations, and are designed to inject scientific information into the national conversation on a Low Carbon Fuel Standard.”


“A national Low Carbon Fuel Standard creates a strong market signal that attracts investment and spurs innovation in clean fuel technologies, increases consumption of clean fuels and lowers average consumer fuel prices, for a total savings of $411 billion by 2035 on fuel expenditures,” said Dr. Madhu Khanna, professor of economics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Economics.


The researchers found a national Low Carbon Fuel Standard would encourage farmers to grow crops that are especially suitable for conversion to fuel, rather than selling food crops into the biofuels market. That would ease pressure on food prices while giving farmers profitable options for degraded cropland.