In 2002 California passed legislation to require carmakers to reduce tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases by thirty percent by 2016 and now three US Senators want to expand those rules to the rest of the country. California Senator Diane Feinstein, and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine are co-sponsoring a senate bill that would require all new cars to meet the California emissions by 2016. It would also require fuels to use more low-carbon alternatives like biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen and electricity.

This latter requirement was probably written by a political aide with only a cursory knowledge of organic chemistry. Biodiesel and ethanol are not low-carbon fuels and have just as much carbon as petroleum fuels. What it is that they are, when blended into petroleum fuels, is a way to reduce fossil fuel use. By using the biofuels they are recycling carbon that is already in the atmosphere, rather than releasing carbon from the earth. While all of this is a step in the right direction, it still does nothing to address the demand side of the equation. As long as customers are still looking for larger more powerful vehicles, car makers will want to build them something they will buy.

[Source: US Senator Diane Feinstein]


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