Alternative Fuels Could Save Your Life

While Oregon continues to make progress on our own Clean Fuels Program, we’re always interested in what’s happening just south in California, where their own version of the program (the LCFS) has been in place for several years. Last week, the Atlantic ran a story on the considerable health benefits and economic savings from the reduction in carbon pollution emissions, since the passage of California’s policies:


A study released this week by the Environmental Defense Fund and the California chapter of the American Lung Association analyzed the impact of California’s cap-and-trade emissions program—which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020—as well as the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), which mandates a 10 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 2020.

“By 2025, the health benefits of the LCFS and [cap-and-trade] will save $8.3 billion in pollution-related health costs such as avoided hospital visits and lost work days,” the report states. “In addition, these policies will prevent 38,000 asthma attacks as well as 600 heart attacks, 880 premature deaths, and almost 75,000 lost work days—all caused by air pollution.”

An environmental consultant, Tetra Tech, analyzed the future emissions of California’s more than 30 million cars if the climate change laws were not in place as well as the reduction in emissions if the laws are fully implemented.

The impact is considerable. Transportation accounts for nearly 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, with two-thirds of those carbon emissions from passenger cars.  Vehicles are also responsible for 70 percent of the state’s smog, and a result California still has some of the United States’s worst air pollution—80 percent of the population lives in areas defined as having unhealthy air, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

lcfs benegits

In case that sidewise font is hard to read, please note that the y-axis is showing economic benefits in billions of dollars: By 2025, California will save $25 billion in public health costs, by reducing greenhouse gasses and other harmful pollution emissions from their air. And as the Atlantic notes “As impressive as those savings are, they’re based on a relatively small conversion—11.3 percent to 18.8 percent—of California’s cars to run on carbon-free or low-polluting fuels.”

Incredible. Oregon, are we ready?


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