Biodiesel Laws and Incentives in California

The list below contains summaries of all California laws and incentives related to biodiesel.

Laws and Regulations

Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Parking Incentive Programs

The California Department of General Services (DGS) and California Department of Transportation (DOT) must develop and implement AFV parking incentive programs in public parking facilities operated by DGS with 50 or more parking spaces and park-and-ride lots owned and operated by DOT. The incentives must provide meaningful and tangible benefits to drivers, such as preferential spaces, reduced fees, and fueling infrastructure. Fueling infrastructure built at park-and-ride lots is not subject to restricted use by those using bicycles, public transit, or ridesharing. (Reference California Public Resources Code 25722.9)

Alternative Fuel and Hybrid Electric Vehicle Retrofit Regulations

Converting a vehicle to operate on an alternative fuel in lieu of the original gasoline or diesel fuel is prohibited unless the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has evaluated and certified the retrofit system. ARB will issue certification to the manufacturer of the system in the form of an Executive Order once the manufacturer demonstrates compliance with the emissions, warranty, and durability requirements. A manufacturer is defined as a person or company who manufactures or assembles an alternative fuel retrofit system for sale in California; this definition does not include individuals wishing to convert vehicles for personal use. Individuals interested in converting their vehicles to operate on an alternative fuel must ensure that the alternative fuel retrofit systems used for their vehicles have been ARB certified. For more information, see the ARB Alternative Fuel Retrofit Systems website.

A hybrid electric vehicle that is Model Year 2000 or newer and is a passenger car, light-duty truck, or medium-duty vehicle may be converted to incorporate off-vehicle charging capability if the manufacturer demonstrates compliance with emissions, warranty, and durability requirements. ARB issues certification to the manufacturer and the vehicle must meet California emissions standards for the model year of the original vehicle.

(Reference California Code of Regulations Title 13, Section 2030-2032, and California Vehicle Code 27156)

Alternative Fuel and Vehicle Policy Development

The California Energy Commission (CEC) must prepare and submit an Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) to the governor on a biannual basis. The IEPR provides an overview of major energy trends and issues facing the state, including those related to transportation fuels, technologies, and infrastructure. The IEPR also examines potential effects of alternative fuels use, vehicle efficiency improvements, and shifts in transportation modes on public health and safety, the economy, resources, the environment, and energy security. The IEPR's primary purpose is to develop energy policies that conserve resources, protect the environment, ensure energy reliability, enhance the state's economy, and protect public health and safety. For the current IEPR, see the CEC California's Energy Policy website.

As of November 1, 2015, and every four years thereafter, the CEC must also include in the IEPR strategies to maximize the benefits of natural gas in various sectors. This includes the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel. (Reference California Public Resources Code 25302 and 25303.5)

Fleet Emissions Reduction Requirements - South Coast

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) requires government fleets and private contractors under contract with public entities to purchase non-diesel lower emission and alternative fuel vehicles. The rule applies to transit bus, school bus, refuse hauler, and other vehicle fleets of at least 15 vehicles that operate in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange counties. (Reference SCAQMD Rules 1186.1 and 1191-1196)

Freight Efficiency Action Plan

The California State Transportation Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Agency, and other state departments implemented the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan (Plan), which establishes targets to improve freight efficiency and transition to zero emission technologies. The Plan identifies state policies, programs, and investments to achieve the following targets:

  • Improve freight system efficiency by 25% by 2030; and
  • Deploy over 100,000 zero emission freight vehicles and associated equipment, maximizing the number of vehicles powered by renewable energy, by 2030.
The involved parties have also initiated corridor-level freight pilot projects to integrate advanced technologies, alternative fuels, freight and fuel infrastructure, and local economic development opportunities based on the Plan. For more information, see the Transportation Planning website. (Reference Executive Order B-32-15, 2015)

Low Carbon Fuel Standard

California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) Program requires a reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels that are sold, supplied, or offered for sale in the state by a minimum of 10% by 2020. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) regulations require transportation fuel producers and importers to meet specified average carbon intensity requirements for fuel. In the regulations, carbon intensity reductions are based on reformulated gasoline mixed with 10% corn-derived ethanol and low-sulfur diesel fuel. Propane is exempt from LCFS requirements, as are non-biomass-based alternative fuels that are supplied in California for use in transportation at an aggregated volume of less than 3.6 million gasoline gallon equivalents per year. Other exemptions apply for transportation fuel used in specific applications. The LCFS Program allows producers and importers to generate, acquire, transfer, bank, borrow, and trade credits. Fuel producers and importers regulated under the LCFS must meet quarterly and annual reporting requirements. For more information, see the LCFS Program website. (Reference California Code of Regulations Title 17, Section 95480-95490 and California Health and Safety Code 38500-38599)

Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Standards

California's LEV II exhaust emissions standards apply to Model Year (MY) 2004 and subsequent model year passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles meeting specified exhaust standards. The LEV II standards represent the maximum exhaust emissions for LEVs, Ultra LEVs, and Super Ultra LEVs, including flexible fuel, bi-fuel, and dual-fuel vehicles when operating on an alternative fuel. MY 2009 and subsequent model year passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles must meet specified fleet average greenhouse gas (GHG) exhaust emissions requirements. Each manufacturer must comply with these fleet average GHG requirements, which are based on California Air Resources Board (ARB) calculations. Bi-fuel, flexible fuel, dual-fuel, and grid-connected hybrid electric vehicles may be eligible for an alternative compliance method.

In December 2012, ARB finalized regulatory requirements, referred to as LEV III, which allow vehicle manufacturer compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's GHG requirements for MY 2017-2025 to serve as compliance with California's adopted GHG emissions requirements for those same model years. For more information, see the ARB LEVII and LEV III Program websites for more information. (Reference California Code of Regulations Title 13, Section 1961-1961.3)

Mobile Source Emissions Reduction Requirements

Through its Mobile Sources Program, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has developed programs and policies to reduce emissions from on-road heavy-duty diesel vehicles through the installation of verified diesel emission control strategies (VDECS) and vehicle replacements.

The on-road heavy-duty diesel vehicle rule (i.e., truck and bus regulation) requires the retrofit and replacement of nearly all privately owned vehicles operated in California with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 14,000 pounds (lbs.). School buses owned by private and public entities and federal government owned vehicles are also included in the scope of the rule. By January 1, 2023, nearly all vehicles must have engines certified to the 2010 engine standard or equivalent. The drayage truck rule regulates heavy-duty diesel-fueled vehicles that transport cargo to and from California's ports and intermodal rail facilities. The rule requires that certain drayage trucks be equipped with VDECS and that all applicable vehicles have engines certified to the 2007 emissions standards. By January 1, 2023, all applicable vehicles must have engines certified to 2010 standards. The solid waste collection vehicle rule regulates solid waste collection vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 lbs. or more that operate on diesel fuel, have 1960 through 2006 engine models, and collect waste for a fee. The fleet rule for public agencies and utilities requires fleets to install VDECS on vehicles or purchase vehicles that run on alternative fuels or use advanced technologies to achieve emissions requirements by specified implementation dates.

(Reference California Code of Regulations Title 13, 2021-2027)

Point of Contact
Diesel Hotline
California Air Resources Board
Phone: (866) 6DIESEL (634-3735)

State Agency Low Carbon Fuel Use Requirement

At least 3% of the aggregate amount of bulk transportation fuel purchased by the state government must be from very low carbon transportation fuel sources. The required amount of very low carbon transportation fuel purchased will increase by 1% annually until January 1, 2024. Some exemptions may apply, as determined by the California Department of General Services (DGS). Very low carbon fuel is defined as a transportation fuel having no greater than 40% of the carbon intensity of the closest comparable petroleum fuel for that year, as measured by the methodology in California Code of Regulations Title 17, Sections 95480-95486. DGS will submit an annual progress report to the California Legislature. (Reference California Health and Safety Code 43870, and California Code of Regulations Title 17, Section 95480-95486)

State Transportation Plan

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) must update the California Transportation Plan (Plan) by December 31, 2020, and every five years thereafter. The Plan must address how the state will achieve maximum feasible emissions reductions, taking into consideration the use of alternative fuels, new vehicle technology, and tailpipe emissions reductions. Caltrans must consult and coordinate with related state agencies, air quality management districts, public transit operators, and regional transportation planning agencies. Caltrans must also provide an opportunity for general public input. Caltrans must submit a final draft of the Plan to the legislature and governor. A copy of the 2016 report is available on the Caltrans website. Caltrans must also review the Plan and prepare a report for the legislature and governor that includes actionable, programmatic transportation system improvement recommendations every five years. (Reference California Government Code 65070-65073)

Vehicle Acquisition and Petroleum Reduction Requirements

The California Department of General Services (DGS) is responsible for maintaining specifications and standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks that are purchased or leased for state office, agency, and department use. These specifications include minimum vehicle emissions standards and encourage the purchase or lease of fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). Specifically, DGS must reduce or displace the fleet's consumption of petroleum products by 20% by January 1, 2020, as compared to the 2003 consumption level. Beginning in fiscal year 2024, DGS must also ensure that at least 50% of the light-duty vehicles purchased by the state are zero emission vehicles (ZEVs). Further, at least 15% of DGS' fleet of new vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 19,000 pounds or more must be ZEVs by 2025, and at least 30% by 2030.

On an annual basis, DGS must compile information including, but not limited to, the number of AFVs and hybrid electric vehicles acquired, the locations of the alternative fuel pumps available for those vehicles, and the total amount of alternative fuels used. Vehicles the state owns or leases that are capable of operating on alternative fuel must operate on that fuel unless the alternative fuel is not available. DGS is also required to:

  • Take steps to transfer vehicles between agencies and departments to ensure that the most fuel-efficient vehicles are used and to eliminate the least fuel-efficient vehicles from the state's motor vehicle fleet;
  • Submit annual progress reports to the California Department of Finance, related legislative committees, and the general public via the DGS website;
  • Encourage other agencies to operate AFVs on the alternative fuel for which they are designed, to the extent feasible;
  • Encourage the development of commercial fueling infrastructure at or near state vehicle fueling or parking sites;
  • Work with other agencies to incentivize and promote state employee use of AFVs through preferential or reduced-cost parking, access to electric vehicle charging, or other means, to the extent feasible; and
  • Establish a more stringent fuel economy standard than the 2007 standard.

(Reference California Public Resources Code 25722.5-25722.11 and 25724)

State Incentives

Alternative Fuel and Vehicle Incentives

The California Energy Commission (CEC) administers the Clean Transportation Program (Program) to provide financial incentives for businesses, vehicle and technology manufacturers, workforce training partners, fleet owners, consumers, and academic institutions with the goal of developing and deploying alternative and renewable fuels and advanced transportation technologies. The CEC must prepare and adopt an annual Investment Plan for the Program to establish funding priorities and opportunities that reflect program goals and to describe how program funding will complement other public and private investments. For more information, see the Program website. (Reference California Health and Safety Code 44270-44274.7 and California Code of Regulations, Title 13, Chapter 8.1)

Employer Invested Emissions Reduction Funding - South Coast

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) administers the Air Quality Investment Program (AQIP). AQIP provides funding to allow employers within SCAQMD's jurisdiction to make annual investments into an administered fund to meet employers' emissions reduction targets. The revenues collected are used to fund alternative mobile source emissions and trip reduction programs, including alternative fuel vehicle projects, on an on-going basis. Programs such as low emission, alternative fuel, or zero emission vehicle procurement and old vehicle scrapping may be considered for funding. For more information, including current requests for proposals and funding opportunities, see the AQIP website.

Point of Contact
Vasken Yardemian
Program Supervisor
South Coast Air Quality Management District
Phone: (909) 396-3296

Utility/Private Incentives

Ethanol and Renewable Diesel Volume Rebate Program - Propel Fuels

Propel Fuels offers a rebate to qualified fleet customers for monthly purchases of more than 500 gallons of E85 (flex fuel) and renewable diesel. Fleet customers must purchase the fuel directly from Propel public retail locations using the Propel CleanDrive Fleet Card. The program offers a rebate of $0.03 per gallon for purchases of less than 1,000 gallons of biofuel per month, and $0.05 per gallon for purchases of 1,000 gallons or more per month. The rebate is applied at the end of each monthly billing cycle. For more information, see the Propel Clean Fleet Solution website.

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