Tell Governor Newsom to fund electric transit, not big polluters

What's At Stake

California’s public transit agencies are facing tight budgets as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing them to consider painful cuts — either to their level of service or to their urgently needed investments in electric buses and charging infrastructure to transition to zero-emission fleets. Luckily, there’s a key solution available — reforming the Schwarzenegger-era Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) to support electrification.

The LCFS was built back in 2009, back when we still believed corn oil and other crops were the solution to our transportation problems. It works by requiring producers of high-carbon fuels, like oil refineries, to direct money to producers of fuels that are supposedly lower in carbon. But in practice, the LCFS program funnels most of its 3 to 4 billion in revenues each year to benefit some of the most polluting fuels: crop-based biofuels that have been linked to deforestation of the Amazon, and biogas from large factory farms. These fuels are undermining our climate goals while enriching the State’s largest polluters, including oil and gas companies, and industrial agribusiness.

It’s urgent that the Governor reforms the program because, unlike in 2009, we have the zero-emissions technology we need to replace combustion entirely. LCFS revenue should go towards electrifying public transit agencies and school buses — not towards the industry’s pet projects and false solutions. Tell the California Air Resources Board (CARB) it’s time for him to put his stamp on this program by reforming it for a zero-emissions future.

One of the reasons the LCFS provides lopsided subsidies to the oil and gas industry’s biofuels projects is that it currently doesn’t prioritize air quality. Transportation investments that reduce air pollution by pulling cars off the road or removing combustion entirely do not get preferential treatment. If CARB reworks the program to consider the amount of air pollution avoided, it could deliver major benefits for California’s air quality.

Ploughing 80% of LCFS revenue into combustion fuels while our transit agencies struggle to stay afloat is an unacceptable status quo for a state that prides itself on climate action. Tell the California Air Resources Board it’s time to prioritize climate action and clean air by reforming the LCFS program.

An all electric bus driving on the streets of Los Angeles in front of Los Angeles City Hall.
An all electric bus is seen in Los Angeles, Jan. 12, 2021. (Ringo Chiu via AP)

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