The following op-ed from Michael Whatley, Vice President of Consumer Energy Alliance, appeared in the Stamford Advocate here on June 25, 2010.
Just as the Constitution State was bracing for the rest of another cold New England winter at the end of 2009, Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the governors of 10 mid-Atlantic and New England states were signing an agreement that could significantly raise home heating oil prices throughout the region. By signing onto a Memorandum of Understanding on December 30, the governors paved the way for the adoption of a region-wide Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). As a state without fossil fuel reserves and a large portion of home heating oil consumers, citizens of Connecticut have reason to be concerned.
While proponents are selling this LCFS as a “market-based” way to reduce the carbon content of our fuel, it actually won’t make the fuels in your home heating tank or gas tank any cleaner than they are right now. What it will do is restrict which markets we can get our fuels from and hurt our economy by increasing energy prices across the board.
Never heard of an LCFS? It is a system in which bureaucrats determine which fuels are available to consumers based on their life-cycle carbon emissions – which are based on several factors including the amount of energy used to produce the fuel. Under this formula, heavy crudes — such as oil produced in Canada, the Southwest and Mexico receive a higher life-cycle carbon score since they require more energy to produce than light crudes.
Given that an LCFS discriminates against these North American energy reserves, which make up a significant proportion of our nation’s crude supplies (Canada alone provides almost 20 percent of the fuels we use every day), a large portion of the fuels we currently rely on would be barred under an LCFS.
How would we replace this fuel? You guessed it – imports from across the ocean. So much for energy independence. In fact, an LCFS favors light crudes like those found in the Middle East, Libya and Nigeria – some of the most unfriendly and unstable regions of the world.
While Connecticut may produce the second largest amount of oysters in the U.S., it doesn’t produce or refine any of the fuels it uses on a daily basis. Because Connecticut receives all its fuels from outside the state (largely through the coastal ports of New Haven, New London and Bridgeport), it faces the threat of becoming a “fuel island” under an LCFS — which could have immediate and significant cost impacts on gasoline, diesel and home heating fuels.
Given the current economic difficulties facing Connecticut and the U.S., now would clearly not be the time to adopt energy policies that will likely increase energy costs on the 3.5 million residents of the Nutmeg State.
Proponents of an LCFS are also pushing to include home heating oil as part of this regime — which will significantly raise heating costs for the half of all Connecticut households that use fuel oil as their primary energy source for home heating. Given that Connecticut required almost $126 million in funding from the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program in 2009, restricting Connecticut’s ability to purchase a large portion of the home heating fuel on the market today just doesn’t make sense.
Unfortunately for all Connecticut residents, Gov. Rell and the governors of 10 other New England and Mid-Atlantic states have already set in motion the creation of an LCFS – pushing this harsh scheme on any residents that rely on transportation or heating fuels across the state.
While there is still time to consider the economic and energy implications of adopting this misguided fuels policy, the bad news is that the LCFS train has left the station and shows no sign of stopping.
Residents of Connecticut can only hope that Governor Rell and her fellow governors will realize the negative repercussions of an LCFS in time to stop this runaway train.
If not, we will all pay the price.