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East Coast states push green fuels

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Eleven eastern states have agreed to come up with a new fuel standard aimed at reducing the region’s carbon footprint and at nudging the U.S. away from its dependence on petroleum.

The Low Carbon Fuel Standard would apply to the entire region, Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles said Monday. Refiners would be forced to reduce the carbon content of their gasoline and diesel. Proponents hope to speed adoption of alternative fuels and clean vehicles in what would become a huge new market for such technology.

In addition to Massachusetts, which led the effort, the agreement includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. The bloc has committed itself to crafting a standard by the end of the year.

“Working together, the 11 states from Maine to Delaware will cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, spur the development of clean energy technologies like advanced bio-fuels and electric cars, and reduce our dependence on petroleum,” Bowles said in a statement.

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California was the first state in the nation to adopt a Low Carbon Fuel Standard. That 2007 executive order by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger requires a 10% cut in vehicle emissions by 2020.

“Like California, these other states are leading the way in recognizing that we must take action now to fight global warming,’ Schwarzenegger said Monday.

Transportation accounts for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and 40% in California. Reducing those figures is crucial to the fight against global warming. But elected officials have been reluctant to impose stiff “carbon” taxes on petroleum-based vehicle fuels or to dictate what alternative must be used instead.

Proponents hope that new fuel standards will spark innovation by allowing providers to decide the best way to meet the mandates.

--Marla Dickerson


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