The California Air Resources Board recently announced plans to dedicate a portion of its hidden gas tax to saving the tropical rainforest. This is ironic because CARB’s own policies actually contribute to rainforest deforestation.
The agency is a strong advocate of a “low carbon fuel standard,” or LCFS. The LCFS is a food-for-fuel program that, along with similar mandates in the European Union and the United Kingdom, is wreaking havoc in the rainforest.
Unlike the national ethanol mandate, which relies heavily on domestically-produced corn-based ethanol, CARB’s LCFS places a much greater emphasis on sugar and soybean-based fuels – crops often produced in tropical nations where rainforests are endangered.
When CARB initially considered adoption of the LCFS in 2008, 27 scientists and researchers submitted a letter indicating the policy could have serious unintended consequences on land use.
Holly Gibbs, a researcher at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environmentstated: “If we run our cars on biofuels produced in the tropics, chances will be good that we are effectively burning rainforests in our gas tanks.”
Noted primatologist Jane Goodall has also spoken out, stating: “We’re cutting down forests now to grow sugarcane and palm oil for biofuels and our forests are being hacked into by so many interests that it makes them more and more important to save now.”
Just a few days ago CARB collected hundreds of millions in hidden gas taxes in an opaque carbon credit auction. However, instead of raising gas prices to save the rainforest CARB could do much more by reevaluating its LCFS program instead.
Eric Eisenhammer is the founder of the Coalition of Energy Users, a nonprofit grassroots organization for access to affordable energy and quality jobs.