Today marks the launch of Consumer Energy Alliance’s Secure Our Fuels campaign – a national effort to educate the American people on what a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is, what it’s not, and how efforts to advance such a plan on Capitol Hill may impact the availability of secure, affordable supplies of essential energy.
Unlike the complicated mechanics of implementing an economy-wide cap-and-trade regime, an LCFS seems like it’d be simple and straightforward: Reduce the amount of carbon in our fuels, and thereby reduce the amount of carbon dioxide our vehicles emit from the tailpipe. Same power, same performance, same price (maybe even cheaper!), all while reducing the carbon footprint of America’s transportation fleet.
At least that’s how it’s sold. How it actually works is quite a different story. That’s because an LCFS isn’t about making our gas, diesel or jet fuel any better, cleaner or more efficient than it is today. It’s about making those fuels more expensive and less available. Do that, and Americans will be forced to seek out lower-carbon energy sources in the future – because they won’t be able to find or afford the fuel available to them right now.
But the problems with an LCFS don’t end there. In addition to increasing prices at the pump, an LCFS would discriminate against secure North American supplies of crude oil – resources from Canada in particular that LCFS proponents deem too “heavy” for you to use. Who would make up the difference? Some of the least stable foreign regimes around the world – all of whom would like nothing more than to be given a chance to expand their share and influence in America’s energy markets.
And for what? Less carbon in the atmosphere? Not according to a recent study published in the American Economic Journal by professors from California and North Carolina. The New York Times highlighted the study’s core conclusions in April:
A low-carbon fuels standard is likely to do little to reduce global warming emissions and can even be counterproductive, according to a paper published in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.
The study, by three academics, found that the policy reduces consumption of high-carbon fuels like oil, but “increases low carbon fuel production, possibly increasing net carbon emissions.” …
The economic journal’s paper starkly concludes that a low-carbon fuel standard “cannot be efficient.”
Some will suggest the LCFS threat is premature – aren’t gas prices a lot lower right now than they were last summer? Doesn’t cap-and-trade pose a much more immediate danger to American energy consumers? But that’s just the point: Whether or not cap-and-trade legislation is signed into law in Washington, the effort to impose a nationwide LCFS regime is already well underway. It’s a policy supported by leaders in Congress, and even included as the centerpiece of energy legislation introduced by President Obama while in the Senate.
Some politicians believe an LCFS can be used as a viable (and politically more attractive) alternative to cap-and-trade. But the extent to which that strategy can be successful will depend on the extent to which the American public is kept in the dark about the true consequences of an LCFS. This campaign will provide some light.
How will an LCFS impact your state? Visit our interactive map feature to see who gets hit the hardest.
How might it impact jobs and our economy? Take a look at some of the letters in opposition to LCFS sent by organized labor and everyday American workers.
Welcome to Secure Our Fuels. Stay long, bring others, check out our new TV and radio ads, and help us advance the message that America’s economic well being and strategic security are too important to risk under an LCFS.