Effort to lower fuel prices dies in California

| 8/31/2005

A measure in the California Senate that sought to open the gates for sales of diesel from refineries outside the state has died.

The bill remained in the Senate Appropriations Committee past the Friday, Aug. 26, deadline for bills to advance to the Senate floor. A slightly different version previously passed the Assembly.

Since 1993, strict emissions standards put in place by the California Air Resources Board have banned the sale of diesel made at refineries outside the state. Thus, the state has relied solely on so-called CARB diesel.

But supporters of the bill – AB679 – maintain that newer diesel fuels burn as clean or cleaner than the in-state fuels mandated by CARB and thus should be allowed in the state.

Such a move would circumvent the CARB regulations, creating a situation in which national diesel could be produced and sold in California.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, also said that allowing the sale of non-CARB diesel within the state would reduce the price of diesel by 25 cents per gallon almost immediately.

Supporters also claim that the federally mandated ultra low sulfur diesel that is scheduled to hit the market in 2006 more than meets CARB standards and were at least expecting CARB to lift the ban then.

News of the bill’s demise was disappointing to OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.

“This had the potential to lower fuel prices in the state, which would be a win-win for everybody. It’s unfortunate it didn’t pass,” Spencer said.

Lawmakers must wait until early next year to take up the bill again. It can be picked up from where it left off.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor