California Turns Down a Cleaner Environment, Jobs and a Step Towards Energy Independence

Late last week, Council Members of the Southern California Association of Governments turned down $11 million worth of stimulus money that would have built 55 fueling stations in Southern California providing higher blends of ethanol.

Eileen Tutt, executive director of the California Electric Transportation Coalition, on Friday called the panel’s action “unfortunate.”

The money was turned down because of the group’s policy concerns about ethanol.

Ethanol is a key fuel in our move away from petroleum dependence,” said Tutt, the former No. 2 in the California Environmental Protection Agency.  “If we put the infrastructure in today, then we are closer to being prepared for when cellulosic ethanol is available.”

By accepting the grant money, around 221 jobs would have been generated, greenhouse gases would have been reduced by 27,000 tons and ethanol would have replaced 700 million gallons of petroleum.

Mike Lewis, chief of Pearson Fuels, said, “Dependence on foreign oil is the result of 1,000 little decisions and a few big decisions,” he said. “This was a big decision.”

The United States Environmental Protection Agency released their Renewable Fuels Standard 2 last Wednesday, showing that ethanol burns 21% cleaner than conventional gas (which includes the international indirect land-use change factor). Without the land use factor, ethanol actually burns 52% cleaner than gas.

Paul Wuebben, a clean fuels officer for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, urged the council to accept the dollars. “Ethanol is not perfect, he said, but its wider use would reduce dependence on gasoline and remove pollutants from the air.”

California has over 500,000 flex fuel vehicles.

The infrastructure created by the ethanol stations could evolve over time to accommodate fuels made from other stocks. Stations could also be adapted for electric/flexible-fuels hybrid vehicles that are expected to become more popular on the market,” Wuebben said.

Last year there were a total of 1,950 gas stations offering higher blends of ethanol in the United States…a total of six are located in the Southern California Region.

You would think California (who has a projected 2010 state budget deficit of $25 billion) would be interested in $11 million that would generate jobs, create a cleaner environment and take a stride towards energy independence…but I guess that’s against their policy.

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