||11 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states have committed to developing a regional Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) in order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont will work together to create a common fuel standard that will reduce GHG emissions on a technology-neutral basis.
The initiative will focus on developing a LCFS that would apply to the entire region, creating a larger market for cleaner fuels, reducing emissions associated with global climate change, and supporting the development of clean energy technologies. In January 2009, the heads of environmental protection agencies from the participating states and, in some cases, energy agencies signed a Letter of Intent to work together to tackle the challenge of reducing GHGs from fuels.
A Low Carbon Fuel Standard is a market-based, technologically neutral policy to address the carbon content of fuels by requiring reductions in the average lifecycle GHG emissions per unit of useful energy. Such a standard is potentially applicable to transportation, buildings, industrial processes, and electricity generation. California was the first state to commit to a LCFS for motor vehicles, which it is now in the process of developing. Fuels that may have potential to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation include electricity and advanced biofuels that have lower life cycle carbon emissions and are less likely to cause indirect effects from crop diversion and land use changes than those on the market today.
The Letter of Intent noted that the interconnected nature of fuel distribution in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions makes a regional approach to a LCFS easier to implement and more effective. The joint LCFS effort is also an outgrowth of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which covers GHG emissions from electric power plants. Most of the states in the region have set aggressive goals for reducing GHG emissions across the economy, and several have set those requirements in statute.
In the Letter of Intent, the states committed to participating in an effort to analyze low carbon fuel supply options and develop a framework for a regional LCFS in the Northeast-Mid-Atlantic region, in order to ensure sustainable use of renewable fuels. The states are collaborating with the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), which is conducting a study of a LCFS. The states agreed to work cooperatively with other states and the federal government, and to seek to influence the design of any federal LCFS or other fuels policy that is proposed.
The Letter of Intent committed the 11 signatory states to drafting a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the development of a regional LCFS program, to be forwarded for consideration by the governors by December 31, 2009, or as soon thereafter as possible.