Biofuels, Refining Industry Executives Decry California ZEV Mandate

Source: By Patrick Newkumet, OPIS • Posted: Monday, September 12, 2022

Representatives for industry groups from the refining and biofuel industries on Thursday decried a rule by California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued late last month that would require sales of new cars and light trucks be solely zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035.

The comments — expressed on a panel at OPIS’ 14th Annual OPIS RFS, RINs & Biofuels Forum — came after Newsom announced on Aug. 25 that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) had approved the Advanced Clean Cars II rule. The new regulation accelerates requirements that automakers deliver an increasing number of ZEVs each year beginning in model year 2026.

Sales of new ZEVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEVs) will start with 35% that year, build to 68% in 2030 and reach 100% in 2035.

In a panel bringing together several representatives from major refining and biofuel groups — interests that have long clashed around fuels policy — Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said the rule is likely to sow “disastrous” consequences for those throughout the liquid fuels business.

Cooper expressed concerns over the state’s ability to meet such a target within¬†13 years, noting that, “the closer you get to that date, the more effort there will be to relax, water down or delay some of those overly ambitious and unrealistic requirements.”

He was joined in that sentiment by Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute (API), who said the move by Newsom is likely to result in less abundant sources of energy, less choice, and higher costs for Californians.

“You would think the best way to get to achievable targets was to expand consumer choice, not reduce it,” Macchiarola said.

He added that the group would prefer a policy that places a price on carbon emissions.

Cooper also pushed back against the state’s reasoning behind the move, arguing that the agency is “completely wrong” in believing that a mass expansion of the ZEV market is the only way to reach net-zero carbon emissions statewide by midcentury.

“All of our members are going to be very innovative and find things to drive down their carbon intensity,” Cooper said.

Geoff Moody, senior vice president of government relations and policy at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), said the ZEV target was an “egregious policy” that should be struck down immediately by the courts.

Moody added that he was concerned over the mandates’ initial 35% target beginning in 2026.

And Michael McAdams, president at the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA), said that policies should instead be focused on carbon reductions and criticized the “myopia” of those who view ZEV technology as the sole avenue to decarbonizing the transportation sector.

–Reporting by Patrick Newkumet, pnewkumet@opisnet.com

–Editing by Jordan Godwin, jgodwin@opisnet.com

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