Governors of 11 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States Agree to Work Together Toward Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fuels
States Set Timeline for Developing a Potential Low Carbon Fuel Standard for Region
A LCFS program is a market-based, fuel-neutral program to address the carbon content of fuels. If adopted by states, it would apply to the transportation sector, and potentially to fuels used for heating buildings. A regional LCFS has the potential to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, which represent approximately 30 percent of emissions in the region, reduce regional vulnerability to petroleum price volatility, and facilitate the long-term transition from petroleum-based fuels in the transportation sector. In addition, a LCFS is anticipated to spur economic growth related to development of advanced technologies and green energy jobs.
In June 2008, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick sent a letter to the governors of all 10 member states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) inviting them to work with Massachusetts on developing a Low Carbon Fuel Standard 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. The Commonwealth's Clean Energy Biofuels Act, signed in July 2008, also required Massachusetts to seek an agreement with its fellow RGGI member states to implement a LCFS on a regional basis. Based on Letters of Intent signed in December 2008 by state environmental commissioners, the participating states - the 10 RGGI states plus Pennsylvania - have been doing preliminary work toward designing a regional LCFS program.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed today establishes a process to develop a regional framework by 2011, and examine the economic impacts of a LCFS program. The states have committed to including strong business, energy and environmental stakeholder involvement in the process by providing opportunities for input and review of any proposed LCFS program.
Signing the Memorandum of Understanding were the Governors from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
"The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States are more dependent than most on imported fossil fuels, and it's up to us to lead the way forward, just as we have done in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for electricity," said Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick. "I am proud to work with my fellow governors to set a standard that will make us more energy independent and environmentally sustainable in the ways we move people and goods and heat our homes."
"Vermont is a leader in limiting greenhouse gas emissions, but about 45 percent of our carbon footprint is generated from the transportation sector," Governor Jim Douglas said. "As with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, this partnership will help us meet our environmental challenges and encourage the creation of green jobs."
"New Hampshire is committed to working regionally and nationally to avert climate change," said New Hampshire Governor John Lynch. "We are pleased to work with other states to undertake an in-depth review of the issues surrounding a low-carbon fuel standard, including its potential economic impact. The work done under this MOU will give us information we need to determine whether to move forward with a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard as individual states and as a region."
"We need to address the challenges we are facing with solutions that improve our environment and create jobs," Delaware Governor Jack Markell said. "I am pleased that Delaware has again joined other states in addressing carbon emissions. This program will spark investment and innovation in alternative fuels and electric cars like those that Fisker Automotive plans to make in Wilmington." Fisker is a California-based automaker that intends to build "plug-in" hybrid vehicles at a retooled former General Motors plant in Delaware.
"Assessing the possibility for a low carbon fuel standard presents another opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and create green jobs," said Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. "This standard has the potential to promote new fuels, such as cellulosic ethanol derived from switch grass, and to promote electric vehicles. Common sense dictates we should investigate these opportunities, which can lead to job creation."
"Climate change is the most pressing environmental issue of our time and once again states are leading the way in the absence of federal action," New York Governor David A. Paterson said. "This 11-state collaboration will lay the groundwork for creating the next generation of fuels that will address climate change. Just as we achieved with power plants, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states are determined to work together to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from vehicles and simultaneously help build a green energy economy."
"This regional effort is necessary to protect the progress that we are making within the states," Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell said. "Low carbon fuels can create thousands of more jobs, making the fuels right here in Pennsylvania and the northeast region, and breaking the addiction to foreign oil. Green energy initiatives have created thousands of jobs and attracted millions of dollars in private investment."
The 11 signatories include the ten member states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), plus Pennsylvania. The Memorandum of Understanding notes that the states have already demonstrated the success of regional emissions reduction programs with RGGI, which covers greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. According to the MOU, a regional program to address transportation and other fuels is prudent and efficient given the interconnected nature of the fuel distribution system in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region.
In the Memorandum, the 11 states agree to work together to analyze low carbon fuel supply options, determine the feasibility of achieving a range of reduction goals, including a 10 percent reduction in carbon intensity of fuels, and develop a framework for a regional LCFS in order to ensure sustainable use of renewable fuels in the region. The states are collaborating with the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM).
The regional LCFS initiative is being coordinated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). For more information on the LCFS work in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, turn to: http://www.nescaum.org/topics/low-carbon-fuels.