California’s Proposed Low Carbon Fuel Standard is a Climate Policy Failure

CARB’s revisions to one of California’s largest climate programs would be a polluter giveaway to dairy methane and refineries, all while doubling down on combustion


Zoe Woodcraft, (818) 606-7509,

Late in the day yesterday, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released analysis and details of its proposed amendments to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, one of California’s largest climate programs that generates $3 to 4 billion in climate funding every year. To the dismay of environmental and environmental justice groups in California and around the country, the proposed changes neglect zero emissions transportation that would clean California’s air and deliver the strongest climate benefits, and instead invests further in dated programs like subsidizing the industrial dairy industry’s methane problem and biofuels like soybeans and corn that dig us into a deeper climate hole.

“Why, in the 2020s, would California design a climate program that digs us in deeper with polluting combustion technologies that dirty our air? It’s madness, and we’ll be throwing good money after bad if California moves forward with these proposed Low Carbon Fuel Standard changes,” said Adrian Martinez, deputy managing attorney on Earthjustice’s Right To Zero campaign. “Governor Newsom should step in and drag the Low Carbon Fuel Standard into the present. We should be harnessing this program for an electric future in California — not a polluters’ paradise.”

Environmental groups have proposed vital reforms to the program that would devote more funding to zero emissions transportation in the state, especially in light of painful expected budget cuts in that sector. Key public transit agency leaders in the state have also weighed in, urging these reforms. The proposal from environmental and environmental justice groups would phase out subsidies to polluting industrial dairies in the 2030s, and cap subsidies for fuels made from crops like soy and corn at their 2022 levels, all while keeping costs for Californians at the gas pump lower than the state’s current proposal. The California Air Resources Board has failed to build in these critical reforms.

“The agency’s staff must have been watching a very different hearing from the one we were at, which saw CARB board members voicing deep concerns about the direction the agency has been taking the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). We view these changes to the LCFS as a litmus test of the leadership of the California Air Resources Board,” added Martinez.

Large flames on a hillside looms just above homes below it.
Flames rise near homes during the Blue Ridge Fire on October 27, 2020 in Chino Hills, California. (David McNew / Getty Images)

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