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Vermont closer to low-carbon fuel standard

Gov. Jim Douglas and 10 other governors in the region took the next step toward developing a regional Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) by signing a Memorandum of Understanding that commits their states to continued participation in a regional effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fuels for vehicles and other uses.

"Vermont is a leader in limiting greenhouse gas emissions, but about 45 percent of our carbon footprint is generated from the transportation sector," Douglas said. "As with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, this partnership will help us meet our environmental challenges and encourage the creation of green jobs."

Some critics of the LCFS program claim the multi-state measure will actually end up costing jobs, increasing taxes and transportation costs on all levels, and end up with even more "nanny state" intrusion by government in the private sector.

LCFS program is a market-based, fuel-neutral program to address the carbon content of fuels, and supporters claim the effort has the potential to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, which represent approximately 30 percent of emissions region wide, but the long-term costs are uncertain. Supporters claim LCFS will help reduce regional vulnerability to petroleum price volatility and facilitate the long-term transition from petroleum-based fuels in the transportation sector. In addition, they say, LCFS is anticipated to spur economic growth related to development of advanced technologies and green energy jobs. However, job-creation specifics are not available.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed last week is a step in the process of developing a regional framework by 2011. Other states signing on to the Memorandum of Understanding were: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

In the Memorandum, the 11 states agree to work together to analyze low carbon fuel supply options, determine the feasibility of achieving a range of reduction goals and develop a framework for a regional LCFS in order to ensure sustainable use of renewable fuels in the region. The state will also consider the economic impacts of a LCFS program and are committed to including strong business, energy and environmental stakeholder involvement. The states are collaborating with the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM).

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