Oregon Legislature Passes Clean Fuels Bill

In a 31-29 vote Wednesday, the Oregon House of Representatives narrowly approved a bill to lift the sunset date on the state's Clean Fuels Program. The bill, S.B.324, passed in the state Senate in February. The legislation now goes to Gov. Kate Brown, D-Ore., who is expected to sign it into law.

The bill comes after state regulators approved in January new rules for the Clean Fuels Program, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gases by cutting the carbon content in Oregon transportation fuels by 10% over a 10-year period. The rules, developed by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), went into effect Feb. 1.

The Clean Fuels Program was first established by the state legislature in 2009, but the program was never fully implemented and has a sunset date of Dec. 31, 2015. The DEQ warned that Oregon lawmakers needed to remove that deadline in order for the program to move forward with its carbon-reduction requirements.

Supporters of the bill to lift the sunset date say the program will help ensure cleaner air in Oregon and mitigate climate change, while opponents argue the program will raise gasoline prices in the state.

According to the DEQ, the Clean Fuels Program will do the following:

– Establish clean fuel standards to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from Oregon's transportation fuels by 10% over the next decade, finally implementing the requirement under the 2009 law.

– Require importers of transportation fuels – owners of the fuel when it crosses into Oregon – to reduce the average carbon intensity of fuels they provide in Oregon to meet the annual clean fuel standards. To meet the standards, regulated parties can choose a variety of strategies, including incorporating more lower-carbon biofuels, natural gas, biogas, propane or electricity into their fuel mix, or purchasing clean fuel credits from providers of clean fuels.

– Allow providers of clean fuels to generate and sell clean fuel credits for the fuels they provide in Oregon.

– Establish fuel supply and fuel price deferrals to contain the program's cost.

More information on the Clean Fuels Program is available here.

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