California Is Leading The Way


Originally Published in The Jacobsen on May 22, 2017
California Biodiesel Industry Commentary

In the near and mid-term, biodiesel and renewable diesel will be doing much of the heavy lifting under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). It is widely acknowledged that the most influential market for alternative diesel fuels in North America is California.

Whether from heightened awareness and concern over climate change or from energy security and domestic jobs, the world in this new millennium has embarked on a transition to clean technologies that include low carbon transportation and mobility solutions. We’ve seen the potential that comes from a strong US clean technology sector including biofuels such as biodiesel and renewable hydrocarbon diesel.

Policies like California’s LCFS and the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (aka AB 32 and the more recently updated SB 32) have proven that embracing a carbon economy can lead to greater economic and job growth than sticking with fossil carbon energy sources such as petroleum and coal.

Roughly 40% of all carbon reduction under the LCFS has come from biodiesel and renewable hydrocarbon diesel, and that number is likely to grow. There’s currently over a billion gallons of unutilized domestic biodiesel capacity, and new domestic renewable diesel capacity is coming on line next year. The alternative diesel fuel sector is ready today and poised to address California’s growing demand for low carbon fuels.

Meanwhile, as California’s clean tech and renewables sector has taken off, the state’s unemployment has dropped by more than half.

The state has attracted billions of dollars in investments from clean tech companies, major automotive OEM’s developing electric and autonomous mobility, and bioenergy research and development from industry, academia and government. The best and brightest minds from all over the world have identified California as ground zero for innovation.

California and regions across the globe are finding that clean fuel investment, production and consumption are leading to cleaner air, greater self-reliance, more jobs and reduced costs to consumers.

We all recognize that petroleum and other fossil carbon fuels will continue to be a large part of the mix for many years to come, but not so long ago salt was the most valuable commodity on earth. Things change. Sometimes it’s difficult to comprehend the transition when you’re in its midst. But the signs are all around us. We should be embracing the jobs, prosperity and economic freedom that come with a US based renewable energy and clean technology sector, even if we are all not yet comfortable with the proven and basic science principals of climate change.

California has taken the clear lead in that endeavor. California companies have embraced climate science and the notion that renewables and carbon neutrality is not only good for the environment but it’s great for business. One example is Apple, which currently powers 100% of it’s operations in 24 countries, including the US and China, with renewable energy.

California has a renewable portfolio standard requiring that 50% of all electricity come from renewables by 2030. It’s actually anticipated that California’s grid will be 65% decarbonized in just 13 years.

The millions of American jobs created by the clean tech and bio-renewables sector have led to roughly three-quarters of a trillion dollars of US GDP in 2016. Over 15 billion gallons of petroleum fuels were displaced last year (mostly from biofuels). That’s almost 60 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents. And more than five times that amount were removed from the environment when you add in the non-transportation fossil replacement renewables sector. That’s progress.

The US biodiesel industry has created almost 50,000 jobs, paying almost $2 billion in wages, and generating about $8.4 billion in total US economic impact. The California LCFS alone has slashed 16.6 million tons of carbon and avoided more than $1.6 billion in negative public health impacts.

The carbon economy that has been created in California is driving innovation, new business, clean jobs and economic development – not just today, but for the next 100 years. And if you’re not on board with climate science, then surely you can embrace renewable energy for the domestic jobs, health and economic benefits – Either way you look at it, California is leading the way!