Politics

WCI and transportation fuels

Why the West should worry about transportation emissions

Well, Clark and I are traveling to Portland for a batch of meetings related to the Western Climate Initiative. On the off chance that you'll miss us, I thought I'd share some of what we're working on with WCI. Our biggest obsession right now is transportation fuels. Namely, we believe it's critically important that transportation fuels be covered by an "upstream" cap in the first phase of the program. Here's more: Why should the WCI cover transportation fuels in an economy-wide cap? More than half of all fossil fuel emissions in the WCI states come from transportation. In contrast, electricity generation represents 26 percent of fossil fuel CO2 in the region -- only about half of the emissions from the transportation sector. If the WCI region is to reduce its emissions by 80 percent by 2050, it will have to start dealing with transportation as soon as possible. Is it complicated to cap transportation fuels? It's actually fairly straightforward to include transportation fuels in an economy-wide cap. As with all aspects of cap-and-trade, the politics may be tricky. But technically, covering transportation fuels may be simpler than electricity -- and certainly simpler than load-based regulation of the electricity sector. How would it work? The fuel supply chain has several "choke points," well upstream from consumers and filling stations. At a chosen choke point, fuel handlers -- either purchasers or sellers -- would be required to track fuel volumes, and obtain emissions permits for the carbon that will be released when those fuels are burned. What "choke points" would work for transportation fuels? We'd suggest two possibilities:

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