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Oregon Senate Votes To End Clean Fuels Program In 2015


SeQuential Biofuels

On Saturday, the Oregon Senate voted not to extend a state program that aims to reduce carbon emissions from transportation fuels.

Senate Bill 488 would have lifted the 2015 sunset on the Oregon Clean Fuels Program. The program would ultimately cut the carbon intensity of fuel sold in Oregon by 10 percent over 10 years.

But with the 2015 sunset in place, the program cannot possibly be fully implemented.

The program was created by a bill passed by the 2009 Legislature, but it is still in the first phase where suppliers are only required to report the carbon intensity of the fuel they sell. The second phase would require carbon reductions.

Supporters of the bill with the Clean Fuels Now Coalition said lifting the sunset would have encouraged investment in cleaner fuels in Oregon. They’re hoping the program will create more demand for fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel with a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline.

A similar program in California has replaced more than 2 billion gallons of petroleum with cleaner fuels, according to a recent report by the University of California-Davis.

“If I were a clean fuels producer, I’d go to California,” said Chris Hagerbaumer, deputy director of the Oregon Environmental Council. “And that’s what they’re doing. That’s why we’re so disappointed.”

Opponents of the Clean Fuels Program with Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policy argue the low-carbon fuel requirements will result in higher fuel costs and negative economic impacts.

The Senate vote was 15-15 before majority leader Sen. Diane Rosenbaum, D-Portland, switched her vote to oppose the bill so it can be reconsidered before the end of the legislative session.

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