The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works recently held a hearing on biofuels policy during which Cory-Ann Wind had the opportunity to talk about Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program – one of the most successful statewide policies for addressing the state’s contribution to global climate change. Managed by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the program began in 2016 with the goal of cutting carbon emissions from transportation sector, the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
The program is designed to gradually make transportation fuels cleaner, and it complements programs to make vehicles cleaner. Its success and progress are reflected in three distinct outcomes:
First, companies that are producing biofuels are making those fuels more cleanly and delivering them in greater volumes to Oregon. Renewable forms of diesel, natural gas, propane, and electricity have emerged as commercially viable and cost-effective replacements of their fossil versions. All of these fuels have helped reduce about 6 million tons of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and displaced over 1 billion gallons of fossil fuels.
Second, the transition from fossil fuels to biofuels and electricity is reducing tailpipe pollution and improving public health. In addition to reducing greenhouses gases, low-carbon fuels also emit less carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter compared to fossil fuels. Reducing these pollutants can save Oregon millions of dollars in health care costs. This is especially important for the state’s historically overburdened communities that are disproportionally located near major transportation corridors, multimodal facilities and distribution hubs.
Third, the program has spurred innovation and investments without impacting the price at the pump. The program has fostered a $100-million-a-year-plus market where investments are being made to increase the production of lower-carbon fuels, spark innovations in technology and invest in infrastructure to deliver these fuels across the state. These investments have allowed the transition from fossil products to cleaner fuels to happen without any significant rise in retail or wholesale fuel prices when compared to our neighboring states — even those that have not had similar fuel regulations. In fact, the program has lowered the cost of many low-carbon fuels and has created a powerful financial incentive to decarbonize the transportation sector.
DEQ is proud of the Clean Fuels Program and of its role in creating Oregon’s clean energy future.
–Cory-Ann Wind, DEQ Clean Fuels Program Manager