California's (Misguided) Drive to Pump Up Biofuels

e85 flex fuel
Despite new research suggesting the shortfalls of biofuels may far outweigh the purported benefits, California - mirroring the stance adopted by EU countries - is pursuing an aggressive alternative fuel strategy in an effort to reduce its GHG emissions. The LAT's Elizabeth Douglass, in what can only be described as a biofuel fluff piece, describes recent efforts by Los Angeles and the state to bulk up its number of alternative fuel stations - with a focus on E85 and biodiesel.

While California leads the country in its adoption of hybrids and alternative fuels, there are still very few stations at which E85 refueling is possible - 7 total, 3 of which are open to the public. The great majority of the existing 835 fuel stations provide CNG (compressed natural gas), electricity or liquefied petroleum gas. With a new emphasis on alternative fuels - federal standards will require gasoline's ethanol content to jump from 5.7% to 10% - and a rash of new investment, through state and federal grants, the state is stepping up the number of sites that offer biodiesel and other alternatives.The California Air Resources Board (CARB) set aside millions to build 34 new public E85 stations last year; most will first appear in the Sacramento area, but many will soon be coming to the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. Douglass mentions a few local family-owned ventures offering E85 and biodiesel, including Brentwood's Conserv Fuel and Rohnert Park's Redwood Oil Co.

The former, in an attempt to raise awareness (and sales), recently had a special sale, during which drivers could purchase E85 for 85.9 cents a gallon - a huge discount over the usual price; the difference was paid for by GM, which has sold the largest number of E85-compatible, or flex-fuel, vehicles.

Longtime readers know we're no big fans of biofuels (especially E85) - in fact, quite the contrary. In light of the new studies we previously reported on, which highlighted the land-use concerns and amount of emissions created during biofuel production, we certainly feel that California, given its strong environmental credentials, could've pursued a better strategy - focusing on renewable energy sources (solar, wind and wave energy) and emissions reductions instead. Assuming the state wins its suit against the EPA, its auto emissions waiver, for example, would go much further toward easing climate change concerns than its new biofuel plan.

Image courtesy of nice.weiss via flickr

Via ::Los Angeles Times: State to pump up access to biofuels (newspaper)

See also: ::Syntec Biofuel: Closer to Fuel from Waste, ::More Bad News about Biofuels: Land-Use Concerns Nix Benefits

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