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November 27, 2013 at 6:00 AM

A low-carbon fuel standard for Washington state?

Michael Osbun / Tribune Media Services

Michael Osbun / Tribune Media Services

A representative of the oil refiners was talking to Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday about something called the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Washington doesn’t have a LCFS but California does, and the Golden State’s ideas tend to migrate here. And the oil refiners say the California experience is none too good so far.

The LCFS is explained to me as a rule that alcohol be mixed into gasoline or biodiesel into diesel to lower the percentage of carbon, because carbon heats the Earth. Upon hearing this I said, sure, I’d seen the sticker on the pump where I buy gas. The fuel contains up to 10 percent ethanol. No, no, they said; that’s the federal standard. We can satisfy that by mixing some stuff in. No problem with that. The LCFS is much more complicated.

California’s LCFS wants to know how much carbon was burned to create the ethanol or biodiesel. To calculate that, it wants to know what the feedstock was, how much energy it took to refine it and how far it was moved. This is particularly a problem with ethanol, said Kevin Adams of the Boston Consulting Group, which is working for the Western States Petroleum Association. It means that ethanol from corn, which is the sort of ethanol in the gasoline I buy, doesn’t help you enough. Too much carbon was burned to create it. 

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February 21, 2013 at 6:00 AM

State investment board admits alternative energy not a good investment

Our new “green governor,” Jay Inslee,  has been raising hopes that Washington will be “the spot, right here, where an international revolution is going to begin in how we power our economy.” That revolution is “alternate energy,” including biodiesel (which he promoted heavily in his book) and electric cars. Reality check: just a few days…

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