As the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) looses momentum, a new policy threatens to take its place. Low carbon fuel standards, or LCFS, are being introduced across the Northeastern States. While Pennsylvania was not a member of RGGI, it will be included under a regional LCFS if passed. An LCFS program will mandate the replacement of traditional fuels such as gasoline and diesel with alternative “low carbon” fuels such as ethanol. While a federal renewable fuel standard is already in place to promote low-carbon fuels, these fuels are unavailable in the affordable quantities required by the public.
According to a 2010 study by the Charles River Associates, a national LCFS would cause U.S. gasoline and diesel prices to increase by nearly 80% within five years and 170% within ten years. Forcing providers to ration their traditional fuels to supply these scarce fuel alternatives will drastically increase the cost of gasoline, diesel, and home heating oil for the consumer.
Despite efforts, an LCFS does not accomplish its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). In fact, the implementation of LCFS will generate increased emissions as a result of “crude shifting,” a product of forcing increased transportation of crudes to and from far away markets. Further limitations will be placed on secure crude imports from Canada into the United States, forcing Canada to ship its exports greater distances to the Asian market. In the U.S., regional “fuel islands” will emerge, distorting the crude market and further increasing costs.
Pennsylvania is home to the world’s first commercial oil well and leads the northeast in petroleum refining. As a leader and pioneer in America’s energy sector, Pennsylvania should act now to secure its prominent position in American energy production. Pennsylvania voters should be educated on the consequences of implementing an LCFS to ensure that the proposed policy does not become law. A regional LCFS will increase the cost of fuel and hurt jobs at a time when Americans can least afford it.