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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Pass-Through of Alternative Fuel Policy Incentives: Evidence from Diesel and Biodiesel Markets, the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, and Low Carbon Fuel Standards in California and Oregon

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Oil Price Information Service (OPIS); Bloomberg

Biodiesel and hydrotreated renewable diesel (RD)—or collectively biomass-based diesel (BBD)—have become integral components of compliance with policies aiming to reduce U.S. transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions. Such policies include the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), and Oregon’s Clean Fuel Program (CFP). These policies, along with a federal Blender’s BBD Tax Credit (BTC), provide financial incentives for BBD. In this white paper, the authors study pass-through of implicit taxes and subsidies, introduced by federal and state policies, to a variety of diesel and soy biodiesel fuel prices in the context of the U.S. diesel sector, focusing on fossil diesel and soy biodiesel. They apply time series methods techniques to estimate how a variety of diesel fuel price spreads across the country and in California and Oregon responds to changes in the implicit taxes placed on petroleum diesel and the implicit subsidies awarded to biodiesel. The results presented in this paper point to some inefficiencies in the RFS, LCFS, and CFP. The primary contribution of this paper was providing the first set of estimates of pass-through of LCFS implicit taxes and subsidies, and doing so for the diesel sector, a critical player in LCFS compliance.

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