In the four-county Puget Sound region of Washington, air regulators have drafted a clean fuel standard (CFS) that’s drawing attention from alternative fuel and environmental advocates alike, and natural gas vehicles (NGV) appear to be included in some of the changes.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has a public hearing scheduled in mid-December with a decision on the proposed rules set for early next year. The GHG standard would be reduced to 25% below 2016 levels by 2030.
An analysis done for the air agency by ICF found that the region uses one billion gallons a year of gasoline and 220 million gallons of diesel fuel. Transportation fuels account for 25% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.
Puget Sound Energy and NW Natural are pushing NGVs and the use of renewable natural gas (RNG) in transportation through the Northwest Alliance for Clean Transportation, calling NGVs a “ready made solution.”
“It is good to see Washington proposed a policy that’s technology-neutral, giving fleets more options to affordably meet GHG reduction targets,” said NW Natural’s Chris Kroeker, NGV product manager. He is hoping the emissions targets don’t prescribe specific fuels or technologies. “That’s been a key part of California’s success in putting more RNG and CNG vehicles on the road.”
The proposed CFS would reduce GHG pollution from transportation to address climate change and protect human health, applying to transportation fuels supplied or sold in King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.
In 2017, the air agency’s board adopted a science-based target to reduce GHG pollution by 50% below 1990 levels by 2030, and it pledged to consider adopting a regional CFS to help meet that target.
Similarly, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is tinkering with a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS), and recently approved $533 million to promote clean transportation, mostly aimed at electric vehicles (EV) and fuel cells.
The 11.9-liter NGV engines are eligible for $182 million of hybrid and zero-emission truck and a bus voucher incentive project “as long as they use in-state supplies of RNG,” said CARB spokesperson Dave Clegern. Others in the NGV space “may be eligible for funding under other programs that are separate from the $533 million awarded recently.”
Since the program was extended by the legislature to 2030, CARB has been looking at ways to improve the LCFS. CARB staff also have been looking at recordkeeping for natural gas and book-and-claim accounting for biomethane, along with more precise ways to determine the carbon intensity of farm-based biogas.
ClearView Energy Partners LLC said in a recent LCFS analysis that a series of factors being considered by CARB may “help limit or avoid credit borrowing through the middle of the next decade,” during which renewable diesel capacity may outstrip demand and in the mid-2020s “EV sales may accelerate as they approach parity with internal combustion engine vehicles.”
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