Clean fuel standards face political attacks in Washington, Oregon

By Erin Voegele | June 30, 2015

Clean fuel standards under development in Oregon and Washington have been under attack by their respective state legislatures in recent weeks.  

The Oregon Clean Fuels Standard continued moving forward in March when Gov. Kate Brown signed S.B. 324 into law. That bill removed the sunset date on the program, allowing it to be implemented past the end of this year.

A recent statement released by the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition indicates the Oregon Clean Fuels Standard was being used as a bargaining chip in the state’s transportation budget debate. However, following a June 24 hearing on the transportation budget package, Brown issued a statement noting the hearing demonstrated both transportation and greenhouse gas emissions reductions are important and complicated policy questions that deserve adequate and focused attention. “We worked hard to find a way to address them as a package, but no solution emerged that accomplished that to the satisfaction of all parties. They should be decoupled and considered separately, thus avoiding the ‘my way, or no highway’ situation in which we now find ourselves,” she said.

Washington is also in the process of establishing a state clean fuels standard. In February, the Washington Department of Ecology published a discussion document to jumpstart dialogue on a potential rulemaking for a state clean fuel standard.

On June 23, the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition released a statement noting that Gov. Jan Inslee is poised to initiate formal rulemaking to establish the state’s clean fuels standard. However, on June 29, the Washington Senate passed a transportation bill that includes a provision that would effectively prohibit the enactment of a clean fuels standard in the state. The bill, SB 5987, is currently pending in the Washington House of Representatives.

According to information published by the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition, Inslee has advised that he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk. The coalition is urging stakeholders to contact the members of the Washington House and ask them to vote against the bill.