The Keystone XL pipeline has now waited six years for White House approval. The notion of transporting Canadian oil-sands crude oil to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries is anathema to radical “greens.” who form much of President Obama’s political base.

The activists are worried the delays won’t continue past the upcoming elections. Accordingly they’ve launched initiatives to discourage or prevent the crude from being used in transportation fuels. They are pouring money into Northeastern states to persuade them to track the carbon content of fuels and impose low carbon fuel standards (LCFS).

Meanwhile, thousands of activists marched through New York City recently, demanding that the nation stop climate change that has been occurring since Earth began, slash or eliminate hydrocarbons that supply 80 percent of America’s energy, abolish capitalism and ban hydraulic fracturing — which is largely responsible for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions that they blame for climate change while cutting oil and natural-gas prices and generating much-needed jobs and government revenues.

Various laws already require blending conventional and man-made fuels (ethanol, biodiesel and still nearly nonexistent cellulosic biofuels) that supposedly contain less carbon or produce less carbon dioxide across their life cycles. However, some states clearly want their own low carbon fuel standards, while Vermont and Massachusetts appear headed in this direction.

Oregon’s standards will terminate at the end of 2015 unless the legislature extends it. If that doesn’t happen, Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber says he will use “every tool” at his disposal, including executive action, to “fully implement” the state’s “Clean Fuels Program.”

Washington’s Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, is equally committed to implementing a climate agenda, low carbon fuel standards and “carbon market.” If the legislature won’t support his plans, he intends to use his executive authority, a statewide ballot initiative and campaigns to defeat reluctant legislators.

The governors and activists are counting on support from billionaire Tom Steyer, whose fortune was built on fossil-fuel investments. “We’re working to give Jay the legislature he needs,” said League of Conservation Voters President Jay Karpinski, and to aid the entire LCFS effort.

Mr. Inslee says he won’t proceed until there’s been a “rigorous analysis” of the low carbon fuel standards costs and technologies. However, he plans to sole-source that task to a liberal California company — and he attended a closed-door fundraiser in Mr. Steyer’s home the day he joined California, Oregon and British Columbia in signing a climate agreement that had been developed with no public input.

California and British Columbia have already implemented low carbon fuel standards and other rules. The economic impact from Golden State laws and regulations will increase dramatically in January 2015.

All these players think a unified Pacific coast and Northeastern state program will force the United States and world to take action. If a new international climate treaty becomes impossible, they plan to use low carbon fuel standards to augment the Environmental Protection Agency’s unilateral restrictions on carbon-dioxide emissions.

India says it will not sign a binding climate agreement to curb its fossil-fuel use. Its first priority is to improve the nation’s economy and lift people out of poverty, disease, misery and premature death.

This requires increasing emissions through new coal-powered electricity and oil-fueled transportation, its environment minister says, so it will be at least 30 years before India will reduce its carbon-dioxide emissions. China, Brazil and other major developing countries are in the same position.

That means punitive EPA and fuel-standard actions will have no effect on global atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels — or on climate change, even if carbon dioxide has somehow become more important than the powerful solar effect and other natural forces that have always ruled Earth’s fickle climate.

Worldwide demand for oil dictates that the Canadian oil sands will continue being used to make fuels, and courts have ruled that only California has authority from the Clean Air Act to enact its own fuel standards.

Mr. Kitzhaber responds that LCFS will “spark a homegrown clean-fuels industry” and create jobs.

Charles River Associates says this is unlikely. Applied nationally, it calculated, low carbon fuel regulations could raise the cost of motor fuels by up to 170 percent over the next 10 years and destroy between 2.5 million and 4.5 million jobs.

gallons of water to produce energy

Low carbon fuel standards prop up outdated fuels created to address “peak oil and gas” problems that ended with fracking, which has dramatically increased U.S. production of both fuels.

Producing biofuels requires massive amounts of land, pesticides, fertilizers, fossil fuels and water. Current quotas require plowing an area larger than Iowa to grow corn for ethanol, instead of using it for food crops or wildlife habitat.

The Department of Energy says fracking requires about six gallons of fresh or brackish water per million British thermal units (BTUs) of energy produced. Corn-based ethanol requires up to 29,000 gallons of fresh water per million British thermal units, and soybean biodiesel consumes as much as 75,000 gallons of water per million BTUs.

In terms of carbon dioxide molecules consumed and carbon dioxide emitted over the planting, growing, harvesting, refining, shipping and fuel-use cycle, “green” fuels fare no better than conventional gasoline and diesel.

Low carbon fuel standards are foolish. They amount to crony capitalism masquerading as a solution to an exaggerated or fabricated climate problem — and to separate taxpayers and motorists from their hard-earned currency.

Fiats are fun to drive, but executive fiats kill jobs, economies, family budgets and our children’s future.


This article originally appeared in the Washington Times

Washington Times masthead


  • Paul Driessen

    Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for CFACT and author of Cracking Big Green and Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death.