Cleaner fuel could be Oregon's economic driver
By Jana Gastellum
Oregon Environmental Council
Late last month, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency announced new fuel economy standards for cars, essentially doubling performance requirements to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The increase is expected to save drivers $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel spending and be a significant shot in the arm in the effort to decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Here in Oregon, we're also taking the initiative to promote more efficient, environmentally friendly transportation options. In 2009, the Oregon legislature created a program to encourage clean, new fuels called the low carbon fuel standard. The program requires Oregon's transportation fuel mix to be 10 percent cleaner over a decade, which could be met with anything from biodiesel blends to electric cars to innovations with existing fuels.
Small changes to our fuel supply can have big impacts. Each year, we ship over $5 billion out of state, simply by buying gas and diesel. Oregon doesn't have a single oil producer or refinery, so the $1,600 average each driver spends a year mostly leaks out of state and out of country buying unsustainable fossil fuels.
We have a chance to make that money work for Oregon, reduce pollution and cut our dependence on oil.
The clean fuels program could be a powerful economic driver for the state. An independent study by Jack Faucett Associates found the program will save consumers money, create jobs and increase Oregon’s economic activity. JFA evaluated more than seventy sectors of the economy over a decade and found Oregon’s clean fuels program resulted in increases of at least $70 million and, in the majority of scenarios, up to $900 million in Gross State Product. Businesses and consumers across the state would benefit from lower cost fuels, and the analysis predicted an increase in as many as 29,290 Oregon jobs by keeping the billions we spend on fuel at least partially in state through increased clean fuel infrastructure.
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