Groups weigh in on the approaching CARB hearing

By Susanne Retka Schill | April 15, 2009
The debate on indirect land use change was heating up April 21 in advance of the April 23 hearing of the California Air Resources Board on its Low Carbon Fuel Standard. While the board's decision will impact all alternative fuels in the California market, CARB's indication to include a measure of indirect land use (ILUC) change in its definitions had the corn ethanol industry, in particular, marshalling evidence to show inadequacies in the ILUC concept.

The Renewable Fuels Association issued a news release April 21 calling into question California's ability to reach its low carbon goals due to "the policy's inherent bias against low-carbon biofuels."

The RFA reviewed the conclusions of its analysis of the CARB proposals, saying the model used to predict land use change is not a mature model and includes insufficient credits for co-products; is not sufficiently accounting for projected increased crop yields; and is missing land sets in the database that result in overestimates of forest land conversion. For the complete statement and previous comments from the RFA visit the organization's Web site at

Representing a different point of view, the Union of Concerned Scientists organized a letter signed by more than 170 scientists and economists urging the CARB to account for biofuel pollution from indirect land use change, as well as from other major fuel emissions sources. "To spur innovation in low carbon fuels, the LCFS must send an accurate signal to the growing clean energy market," their letter states. "Strategic investment decisions should be based upon the best available data of the carbon footprint of alternative fuels. Failure to include a major source of pollution, like indirect land use emissions, will distort the carbon market, suppress investment in truly low carbon fuels, and ultimately result in higher emissions."

To learn more about the issue, and follow the debate through submitted comments, visit the CARB Web site at .
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