Gov. Brown removes sunset date from Oregon's clean fuels standard

By Erin Voegele | March 13, 2015

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has signed SB 324 into law. The bill removes the Dec. 31, 2015, sunset date from the state’s clean fuels program. By signing SB 324, Brown has allowed the program to be implemented past the end of this year.

The legislation was passed by the Oregon House of Representatives on March 4 by a single vote, with 31 state representatives voting in favor of the measure and 29 voting against it. The bill passed the Oregon Senate on Feb. 17 by a vote of 17 to 13.

“I strongly support SB 324’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Brown said. “It is difficult to deny that we are seeing the effects of a warming planet. This year, 85 percent of our state is experiencing drought, with 33 percent experiencing extreme drought. This directly impacts 1.5 million Oregonians, hitting our rural communities the hardest. With California, Washington and British Columbia moving forward with their own clean fuels programs, which will shape the West Coast market, it is imperative not only that Oregon does its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also that we build a program that meets the needs of Oregonians.”

“I appreciate the years of work by countless Oregonians who helped develop this law, and I applaud the Oregon Legislature for its thorough examination of these issues,” Brown continued. “The work begins now to ensure this program is well implemented and well managed.” 

The process to establish the Oregon clean fuels program has been ongoing for several years. The program was first approved by the state’s legislature in 2009. The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission adopted rules for the first phase of the program in December 2011. Those rules allowed the department to collect information on fuels that were being imported into the state, enabling the creation of a baseline against which future reductions could be measured. The DEQ was directed to draft rules for Phase 2 of the program in February 2014, and an advisory committee met last year to provide input on program design. A comment period on the Phase 2 rules was also held last year. It closed Nov. 7.

On Jan. 7, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted 4 to 1 to approve rules for the second phase of the Oregon clean fuels program. The program, which is similar to California’s low carbon fuel standard, requires a 10 percent reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from transportation fuels over a 10-year period. The rules took effect Feb. 1. 

Graham Noyes, acting director of the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition and attorney with Keyes, Fox & Wiedman LLP, commended Brown and the Oregon legislature for removing the sunset date from the Oregon clean fuels program. “The passage of SB 324 increases the momentum at the state level to reduce carbon pollution,” he said. “Oregon's program will reduce carbon intensity in the transportation sectors by 10 percent by 2025. The Oregon Program is very comparable with California's low carbon fuel standard program that has already reduced over 10 million metric tons of carbon pollution. Oregonians recognized the imminent threat of climate change and passed the program as an emergency measure that goes into effect immediately.”

“Climate change poses severe threats to the global environment, the world's economy, and national security,” Noyes continued. “Low carbon fuel programs are sound policy solutions that reduce carbon pollution while creating jobs, keeping money in the U.S. economy, and diversifying our energy supply. These programs are succeeding despite fear based opposition campaigns that routinely outspend support campaigns by 10 to 100 times. The Low Carbon Fuels Coalition and other low carbon fuel supporters will now be able to increase our focus on Washington state where a low carbon fuels standard is under active consideration.”

Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) has also weighed in on the new law. “Shifting to cleaner fuels is good for Oregon’s economy and environment,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2. “The West continues to lead the country on smart policies that are fueling a revolution in our transportation system—creating jobs, driving innovation and transforming our economy along the way. Next, we need Washington state to follow its neighbors by moving forward with its own clean fuels standard.”

 

 
 
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