In my book “The Departure Track: Railways of Tomorrow,” I made the following declaration: “There is no question the transportation field has evolved.” But, I also related: “Some may ask: Has it evolved enough? Others will undoubtedly want to know: is this all there is; the end of the road, so to speak? Or, is there something better?”
So, if transportation hasn’t completely evolved, how can it be improved upon or made better than what it is currently?
A clue: The sky’s the limit here folks.
Lately, much attention has been paid to fuels, so that’s probably as good a place to start as any and, the topic on the table today, is the Low Carbon Fuel Standard or LCFS and one relevant study in particular.
“California is capable of tripling its use of alternative fuels over the next 10 years, according to a new report by the fuels and energy consulting firm Promotum,” wrote the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in its Feb. 2, 2015 “Report: Pump Primed for Three-Fold Growth in Clean, Alternative Fuels by 2025: California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard Targets are Achievable and Will Drive Growth” press release. “The study examined the growth potential for cleaner fuels under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), a program requiring the oil industry to reduce the carbon intensity of fuels through the production and use of cleaner fuels.”
“The report’s findings show that the oil industry can meet the LCFS reduction target – a 10 percent decrease in carbon emissions by 2020 – through known, existing fuels and refinery technologies. This includes expanding the use of lower-carbon biodiesel and renewable diesel, biomethane, electricity, and ethanol, as well as improving the carbon-intensity of existing alternative fuels. It also found that existing oil refineries and crude oil production facilities could dramatically cut their carbon footprint by integrating renewable energy, utilizing innovative technologies, and investing in greater energy efficiency.”
Which raises my next point, and that is: If this is indeed doable, can and will it be done? There is a huge difference between making a declaration that a target of this nature can be met and actually meeting it.
NRDC expressed that regulatory stability – long term – is key. What’s more, it is this kind of stability that should encourage a more bullish alternative-fuels market, that market possibly supplying as much as 20 percent of transportation energy in California by 2025, three times that in 2011 when the Low-Carbon-Fuel-Standard program first got under way.
“The study analyzed different scenarios in which the program would encourage cleaner fuels by rewarding producers based on their environmental performance, measured in tons of carbon pollution reduced,” NRDC in the release expressed. “The strong, performance-based incentive provided by the LCFS – worth potentially more than a dollar per gallon for ultra-low carbon fuel producers of fuels such as ethanol made from agricultural waste or biodiesel made from recycled oils – will enable the market to expand and diversify.”