Bills boosting low-carbon fuels and plug-in hybrid vehicles to cut greenhouse gas emissions advanced in the state Senate July 10. AB 118 authored by Assemblymember Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) provides $130 million a year to subsidize low-carbon fuels. Another bill, AB 1077 authored by Assemblymember Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View), seeks favorable electricity rates for plug-in hybrid vehicles. The Núñez bill, approved by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, gives the money to the California Energy Commission to fund development of alternative fuels technology, including direct subsidies for fuel pumps and other infrastructure. The funds come from a number of fee increases on motorists, including rises in vehicle registration and driver’s license fees. A long list of environmental and alternative fuel industry groups, as well as alternative fuel companies, like Pacific Ethanol, support the bill. “It will make California a leader in that emerging industry and be good for the economy,” said John Boesel, CalStart president. California Air Resources Board Environmental Justice Advisory Committee co-chair Jane Williams cautioned that before the bill is enacted it should be amended. Changes are needed, she said, to make sure that increased use of biofuels does not increase the price of food, and is done in a sustainable manner. The Automobile Club of Southern California and Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association oppose the bill. Lieber’s bill, approved by the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, creates a coordinating council of government agencies to identify barriers to plug-in hybrid vehicles and establish state research priorities. It also requires the California Air Resources Board to establish test protocols to certify the vehicles under its emissions regulations. The bill aims to “encourage” the California Public Utilities Commission to establish electricity rates that are favorable to plug-in hybrid owners, said Lieber. A number of environmental groups support the measure, along with Southern California Edison. However, the Western States Petroleum Association opposes it based on concern it will increase electricity rates, an association spokesperson told the committee. The Senate Environmental Quality Committee also adopted a number of other bills, including AB 109 authored by Núñez. It requires a series of reports outlining state progress in carrying out the climate protection law, AB 32. The panel also signed off on a number of measures to enhance energy efficiency in newly constructed buildings.