Originally published April 14th, 2017 by Oregon Environmental Council
Transportation is a leading source of Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions – cars, trucks & buses are responsible for nearly 40% of our state’s climate pollution. So when it comes to taking responsibility for our part in contributing to climate change, changes to transportation is, naturally, where we can make a big difference.
That’s why the Clean Fuels Standard is so critical. There are three ways to reduce transportation climate pollution: cleaner cars, cleaner fuels, and fewer vehicle miles traveled (walking, biking and using transit more). We need all three for a stable climate and healthy communities.
CLEAN FUELS STANDARD
At OEC we’ve worked tirelessly to pass (2009) and reauthorize Oregon’s Clean Fuels Standard (2015) against intense oil industry opposition. Because of our dedication to making clean fuels work, Oregonians now have more choices at the pump, while alternative fuel producers are able to thrive.
The standard ranks fuels according to their life-cycle climate impact and rewards the lowest carbon fuels the most. This creates a built-in incentive for continuous innovation and improvement. Examples of some of the lowest carbon fuels (see graphic below) include biogas produced from waste streams or electricity generated from renewable energy.
1ST YEAR – BIG RESULTS
One year in, the Clean Fuels Standard is working. In its first three quarters, clean fuels has displaced more than 589,000 tons of climate pollution — that’s 30% more than required by the program. 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. Oil importers are complying with the law, while DEQ has already certified over 350 different low-carbon fuel options that are eligible in the program.
Businesses all across the state, from Coburg to Sherwood, Klamath Falls to Boardman, and Portland to Medford are signed up and using cleaner fuels. You can check out the success stories at cleanfuelswork.com.
JOBS FOR OREGON
One of our favorite success stories comes from Portland-headquartered SeQuential, a producer of ultra low-carbon biodiesel made from recycled waste grease. From adding employees to their office in Portland, their retail station in Eugene, processing plant in Salem and truck drivers in White City, the Clean Fuels Standard has allowed SeQuential to grow their business footprint in Oregon by 150 employees. SeQuential recently released a video series explaining how the Clean Fuels Standard is helping their work. Check it out here.
Before Clean Fuels, Oregonians sent more than $6 billion out of state each year through importing gas and diesel. Now more of these dollars are staying local to support jobs and our economy.
The value to Oregonians from the clean fuels standard:
- immediate and measurable emissions reductions (cleaner air)
- accountability of oil companies if they try to import dirtier petroleum fuels (like tar sands)
- more clean fuel choices
All of this for the equivalent of a fraction of a cent per gallon at the gas pump.
As the world oil market looks poised for serious volatility thanks to meddling from Russia and OPEC, locally-made clean fuels will have more stable prices as well as less pollution, giving businesses and consumers greater protection from oil price spikes.
Oregon’s leadership on clean fuels shows not only how our state can lead on climate — demonstrating a real commitment to lower emissions from our largest sources — but also illustrates how the actions we take motivate broader change. Clean fuels standards are working so well here and in California and British Columbia, that Canada is now taking their policy nationwide.
It’s been an amazing first year, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.