A Clean Fuel Standard: The Path to a Clean Transportation Sector

The New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) is advocating strongly for the approval of a Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) law in the state of New York. A CFS, sometimes also called a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) or a clean transportation standard, mandates that producers of fuel with high carbon intensity, like fossil gasoline and diesel fuels, subsidize fuels with low carbon intensity such as electricity, hydrogen,  and biofuels.

As outlined in the CLCPA’s Scoping Plan, even with the most aggressive electrification scenarios, there will still be vehicles running on liquid fuels on the road by 2050. A CFS is crucial to curbing transportation emissions in New York and CFS policies have already proven to be effective in reducing transportation emissions in every state on the West Coast. For instance, the Advanced Clean Car Rule, which mandates zero-emission light-duty vehicle sales by 2035, would not be feasible in California without their LCFS.

Implementing a CFS in New York State would not require state expenditure, and based on the success of California’s program, it would generate economic activity in the transportation sector of up to $1-1.4 billion per year. Additionally, it would have substantial public health benefits in the short term by reducing toxic emissions responsible for respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

It’s worth noting that a CFS and a Cap and Invest program, which was proposed in the governor’s Executive Budget, complement each other, with each improving the effectiveness and lowering the costs of the other. Moreover, the transportation sector is the largest contributor to GHG emissions, and the only way to reduce these emissions is through improved vehicle efficiency and clean fuels.

Recently, a major travel center operator in California announced plans to sell renewable diesel or biodiesel by 2024, with both fuels qualifying for credits under the state’s LCFS. This is a positive step towards reducing emissions, and we can expect to see similar developments in New York State once a CFS is passed.

NYLCV strongly urges the inclusion of a CFS policy—such as A. 964/S. 1292 (Woerner/Parker)—in the state legislature’s budget this year. This policy would promote the electrification of the state’s vehicles, reduce GHG emissions and co-pollutants associated with liquid fuels, generate economic activity in the transportation sector, and have significant public health benefits. It’s time for New York State to take action towards a cleaner and more sustainable future. 

03.03.23 // AUTHOR: Michelle Loree //