State Shouldn’t Settle for Clean Fuels Compromise

22-06-2017 |  Mentions

Originally posted on June 19th, 2017 by Ian Hill for The Register-Guard

Oregon’s Clean Fuels Standard is helping local businesses and reducing air pollution. This innovative, market-based program is helping businesses like ours — an Oregon biodiesel producer with a presence throughout the West Coast — compete on a level playing field, hire more employees and contribute to our communities.

From management, logistics and support staff in our office in Portland to our retail station in Eugene, from our processing plant in Salem to our newest truck drivers in White City, the Clean Fuels Standard has enabled us to grow our business footprint in Oregon by 150 employees

 Many of our employees were disappointed to see the recent Register-Guard editorial, from their hometown paper, advocating what amounts to a repeal and replacement of the state’s Clean Fuels Standard as a vote-trading scheme for the Legislature’s transportation package.

The program is working by all measures. The politicians have done their job; now it’s time for them to get out of the way. Let Oregon clean fuel businesses do what we do best: innovate, grow, and provide our customers with better, cleaner fuels made closer to home.

We’re not alone; more than 100 companies are already registered in the program, with more than a third of them producing clean fuels for Oregonians. Businesses from Coburg to Sherwood, Klamath Falls to Boardman, and Portland to Medford are using and creating cleaner fuels.

The incentives for continuous innovation and improvement will continue only if fuel producers can be reassured as to the economic certainty of the program. Constant political meddling is making investors skittish and depriving Oregon of economic opportunities.

Clean fuels businesses like ours have created more than enough supply to keep the program running smoothly, something opponents of the law said we couldn’t do. Its impact on fuel prices is so small it’s difficult to measure — only a fraction of a penny per gallon. The ever-volatile world oil market, Russia, and OPEC will add more to the cost of gas than anything lawmakers do in Oregon. Locally made clean fuels protect us from big oil’s price spikes.

In its first year, Clean Fuels slashed 775,000 tons of climate pollution, the same as taking 164,000 gas cars off the road for a year. Clean Fuels represents a major win for the environment and public health. Over the life of the program, it will reduce 8.4 million metric tons of climate pollution, the equivalent of taking 1.8 million cars off the road. And with President Trump deciding to pull out of the Paris climate agreements, Oregon’s role as a climate leader is more important than ever.

The Clean Fuels Standard is clearly working. Even so, out of an abundance of caution, state regulators are currently working on rules to refine the program with even more consumer protection. Our company is among the stakeholders in the rule-making process, along with oil companies, environmental and health advocates. The process is going smoothly.

The California “credit cap,” for instance, as mentioned by this paper’s editorial, should be created by regulatory rulemaking, not legislated, because it’s more nimble and able to adjust to market forces. There is no need for the Legislature to hijack the rule-making by repealing current law and replacing it with a wish list of bad ideas meant to benefit large, out-of-state oil companies to the detriment of home-grown clean fuels providers. What’s being sold by its backers as a “compromise” is a sophisticated, purposeful dismantling of one of our state’s signature clean air and climate protections.

Oregonians want and deserve a transportation package. Businesses want a transportation package. All reasonable legislators want a transportation package. A small minority is withholding votes to score political points at the expense of what’s best for Oregon. The burden of “compromise” should not be on those who wish to leave a successful law in place; it should be on those who stand in the way of much needed progress over an old political grudge.

Clean Fuels is a win-win for Oregonians, but not for the oil industry. Oregonians are fine with that; legislators ought to be as well. When it comes to the success of local businesses, the added choice for consumers, and the health of Oregonians, we simply should not compromise.

Ian Hill is a co-founder of SeQuential.