State is poised to act on long-delayed pollution rules

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a 10 percent reduction in pollution from gas and diesel fuel emissions over the next five years.

The rule was first adopted years ago, but it’s been on hold amid a lengthy legal challenge by oil industry groups.

Environmentalists and some business groups have hailed the low carbon fuel standard as one of California’s most important steps to reduce greenhouse gases. It’s designed to reduce the state’s dependence on oil by providing market incentives for electric, natural gas and biodiesel-powered vehicles.

The program imposes a gradually declining cap on the amount of carbon emissions on gas and diesel, and not just the stuff that comes out of your tailpipe. It also covers the production and transportation of those fuels. It’s up to fuel companies to figure out how to meet the targets, either by changing production methods or buying carbon credits on the market.electric-vehicle-charging

The program was first proposed by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007 and became official policy in 2009. But it was in legal limbo for years because of lawsuits filed by oil and ethanol producers. Among other things, they said the rules unconstitutionally limit interstate commerce.

California prevailed in those lawsuits, but the settlement requires the state Air Resources Board to re-approve the standards before they can take effect.

Oil producers have said the new rules will make gas much more expensive in California, where prices are routinely well above the national average already. The state Air Board says it anticipates that the cost of gas and diesel will go up by a few cents a gallon.gasstation

The new rules will include some changes to appease fuel producers, including capping the price of carbon credits.

Today’s anticipated move comes just a couple of weeks after the oil lobby helped kill a Democratic legislative proposal to slash statewide petroleum use in half by 2030, dealing a significant setback to Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate change agenda.