Commission green lights first phase of Oregon Clean Fuels Program

Oregon's Environmental Quality Commission voted Friday to take the first step toward a clean fuel standard in the state by implementing a data-collection phase.

Oregon's Environmental Quality Commission voted Friday to take the first step toward a clean fuel standard in the state by implementing a data-collection phase. 

Oregon's Environmental Quality Commission voted four to one Friday to start the first phase of the Clean Fuels Program, an effort to stimulate the use of more low-carbon transportation fuels that was put in motion by the Oregon Legislature in 2009.

During phase one of the program Oregon fuel producers and importers will keep records and report to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality on the volumes and carbon intensities of the fuels they provide in Oregon.

The second phase of the program, which will begin after further study and structuring, will likely begin in 2015.

In the second phase fule businesses will be required to reduce the carbon content of those fuels by using more biofuel-type content. The ultimate goal of the program is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent from 2010 levels.

Last week, a coalition of businesses that oppose the Clean Fuels Program, formed to voice their concerns which include higher prices and burdensome regulations.

There is also concern that a similar program enacted in California is facing a lawsuit which questions the use of low-carbon requirements as interference with interstate commerce.

Jana Gastellum, climate protection program director for the Oregon Environmental Council, pointed out that the California Air Resources Board is continuing to move forward with its program despite the lawsuit โ€” and that the state is starting to see results.

"I think that's telling," she said.

A group of businesses, including alternative fuels companies ZeaChem and SeQuential-Pacific Biodiesel, formed a coalition and launched a website in favor of the Clean Fuels Program this week called Clean Fuels Now.

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