Low-carbon fuel standard won’t reduce air pollution. So, why do greens want it so badly?

As part of the push to pass an expensive low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS), advocates now claim it will reduce air pollution. Most recently, Carrie Nyssen and Ryan Mello wrote in the Tacoma News Tribune that adopting an LCFS would reduce particulate matter (known as PM 2.5) that is a cause of health problems.

Nyssen and Mello lament that Seattle-Tacoma ranks as the “15th most-polluted area for short-term particle pollution.” The low-carbon fuel standard, however, does almost nothing to reduce particle pollution.

The Department of Ecology, in research cited by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency this year, found the LCFS would reduce PM 2.5 by about one percent…ten years from now. One percent. …

Achieving this inconsequential result would, however, come with a significant price tag. In California, the LCFS also costs about $190 to reduce one metric ton of CO2. A decade from now, when the full benefits (and costs) of the LCFS would be felt, that would amount to an increase of about 17 cents per gallon.

There are many projects that reduce that same amount of CO2 for less than $10 per metric ton of CO2. Put another way, for every $20 we spend on the LCFS, we waste $19. …

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