As the Legislature heads towards the end of its session, a major struggle erupted between environmental and business groups over SB 210, a bill that effectively throws out Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger\u2019s low-carbon fuel standard and starts over with a clean slate. Environmental groups contend the gubernatorial standard favors corn-based ethanol and gives \u201cshort shrift\u201d to plug-in hybrid vehicles and strategies to reduce use of motor fuels. Business interests counter a change will be a \u201cjob killer.\u201d The latest version of the bill sponsored by Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) calls for a low-carbon fuel standard, but establishes specific life-cycle criteria that fuels would have to meet to be certified as \u201clow carbon,\u201d an aide to the senator said. Schwarzenegger ordered state energy and environmental agencies to develop a low-carbon fuel standard in January to help meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals of the state\u2019s climate protection law, AB 32. The agencies have gone to work on developing the standard by first commissioning studies to examine the life cycle emissions of various fuels. Those studies have shown some benefits from corn-based ethanol, but skeptics are worried that massive use of crops to produce the alcohol fuel will trigger land-use changes that increase emissions elsewhere, even abroad. They also worry about other impacts--including food price increases, overuse of water, and increased emissions of smog-forming pollutants. To enforce life-cycle criteria, AB 210 calls for the California Air Resources Board to establish rules requiring fuel producers, blenders, refiners, and other businesses involved in the motor fuel industry to file reports on their operations. Regulators would use them to determine if their products were eligible for low carbon credit. It also requires the California Energy Commission to periodically study the impacts of the low carbon fuel standard program and report its findings to the Legislature. However, the California Chamber of Commerce is warning that the bill as amended will stop a \u201ccompetitive alternative fuels market\u201d from emerging. The Western States Petroleum Association--which faces reporting requirements--also opposes the measure. It will \u201climit viable options for achieving necessary carbon reductions in the transportation sector,\u201d according to Eloy Garcia, who represents the association. Editors\u2019 note: For a more detailed version of the SB 210 story, please see our new sister publication: E=MC2 \u2013 Energy Meets Climate Challenge. You can find it at www.energymeetsclimate.com.