U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander today asked a top Tennessee agriculture and science professor to examine the effect on Tennessee’s gasoline and diesel consumption of adopting a low carbon fuel standard for the transportation sector. A low carbon fuel standard would not only reduce emissions of carbon dioxide – the primary greenhouse gas cited for causing climate change – but also have the effect of encouraging the use of cleaner fuels produced in the U.S. as opposed to importing oil from abroad.
“Using domestic low carbon fuels reduces oil consumption, lowers expenditures on oil imports and saves consumers dollars at the pump,” said Alexander, a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW). “It is time to put performance standards into place that will guarantee that new choices at the pump will be cleaner and more sustainable.”
On December 5, 2007, Alexander offered an amendment to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act that establishes a performance standard for transportation fuels of 5 percent less carbon per unit of energy in 2015 and 10 percent less carbon per unit of energy in 2020 from current levels. The Alexander amendment was approved by the EPW Committee in a bipartisan vote of 13-6 – which made it the only Republican-sponsored amendment to pass the committee in a roll call vote. The Lieberman-Warner bill is now awaiting action on the Senate floor.
In a letter written today to Dr. James Byford, the dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Alexander asked Byford to project how such a fuel standard could impact Tennessee.
“A performance standard allows all fuels and technologies to compete while guiding the market toward superior environmental performance,” Alexander wrote in the letter.
Alexander said in the letter that after California adopted a low carbon fuel standard in January 2007, the state projected that the California standard would displace 20 percent of California’s gasoline consumption by 2020 and increasingly more after that.
Byford led a presentation at a field hearing on biofuels in Jackson, Tennessee on July 24, 2006. At that hearing, Byford testified that Tennessee could play a huge role in the development of the use of biofuels to reduce air pollution emissions from transportation fuels.