California regulators approve substantial cut to carbon from gasoline and diesel fuels

California air regulators yesterday approved a substantial cut to carbon pollution from gasoline and diesel fuels, a move that would force oil producers to cut the amount of carbon generated by all transportation fuels in the state at least 10 per cent by 2020.

The action by California Air Resources Board, underlines the administration's tough stance on an aggressive environmental agenda through the regulatory process rather than by legislation.

The rule approved by the California Air Resources Board yesterday was originally adopted in 2009. However, it was fought tenaciously by oil and gas companies, which used legal challenges to keep it partially on hold.

Although the cut was smaller than what the governor had wanted, state regulators were bullish that it could help halve petroleum consumption, even though the legislation for the goal failed.

''This policy is at the very heart of that goal of a 50 per cent reduction - even just doing what we're doing now will get us pretty close,'' said Daniel Sperling, a member of the California Air Resources Board.

Oregon had been the only other state with a carbon fuel standard like California's.

According to commentators, the rules further strengthened California's "toughest-in-the-nation" carbon emissions standards, which oil producers have warn could drive up costs for consumers.

The changes would see the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel increase in a state that already had some of the highest gas prices in the US.

According to the estimates of the state, a typical commuter would shell out an extra $20 to $24 in 2017, increasing to $52 to $56 in 2020.

''We are on a path to reduce our dependence on petroleum and this program is a key piece of that action,'' Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, said ahead of the vote.

Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has pledged to intensify his fight against climate change after the oil lobby helped stymie a legislative proposal earlier this month to cut statewide petroleum use by half in 15 years.

The California Air Resources Board is the state's top regulatory agency to enforce rules aimed at cutting air pollution.

The low-carbon fuel standard received a 9-0 regulators vote.