FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oregon Senate Bows To Out-Of-State Oil Interests
A tie vote in the Oregon Senate may have killed SB 488, a bill that would lift a “sunset clause” that shuts down the Oregon Clean Fuels Program in 2015. After a vote of 15-15, Senator Rosenbaum changed her vote to “nay” in order to allow for possible reconsideration of the bill before the legislative session ends. The program, which was authorized by the Oregon Legislature in 2009 and began implementation in 2013, gives fuel importers ten years to reduce by 10 percent the carbon content of the fuel mix they sell in Oregon.
Portland, OR—A tie vote in the Oregon Senate may have killed SB 488, a bill that would lift a “sunset clause” that shuts down the Oregon Clean Fuels Program in 2015. After a vote of 15-15, Senator Rosenbaum changed her vote to “nay” in order to allow for possible reconsideration of the bill before the legislative session ends. The program, which was authorized by the Oregon Legislature in 2009 and began implementation in 2013, gives fuel importers ten years to reduce by 10 percent the carbon content of the fuel mix they sell in Oregon.
Nearly 120 businesses and organizations formed the Clean Fuels Now coalition calling for an end to the sunset, allowing the program to proceed beyond 2015. The coalition includes businesses and organizations representing clean fuels production, fleets, environmental stewardship, labor, public health and consumer protection.
According to coalition members Pacific Ethanol and Clean Energy Fuels, the 2015 sunset creates regulatory uncertainty that inhibits their firms from investing in Oregon. “Lifting the sunset would guarantee more investment in Oregon,” says Spencer Richley of Clean Energy Fuels.
By contrast, California’s low carbon fuel standard has created stable demand for alternatives, attracting significant private investment. In its first two years, the program has displaced more than 2 billion gallons of petroleum with cleaner fuels (according to a recent report by University of California at Davis).
“Without a strong Clean Fuels Program, Oregon stands to lose, and lose big,” says Andrea Durbin, executive director of Oregon Environmental Council. “I’m talking about the economic benefits of a more diverse fuel supply, but also about meeting Oregon’s greenhouse gas targets. Climate change is barreling at us, and it’s driving a petroleum-fueled monster truck. We need to get in the driver’s seat.”
Transportation represents nearly 40 percent of Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions. All Oregon state plans to tackle climate change include the Clean Fuels Program, including the Oregon Global Warming Commission’s Roadmap to 2020 and Governor Kitzhaber’s Ten-Year Energy Action Plan.
Jim Houser, co-owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic and co-chair of the Main Street Alliance of Oregon, notes a missed opportunity to stabilize fuel costs and create jobs. “We fail to understand how legislators could put out-of-state oil interests in front of their own constituents and businesses within their districts. Drivers will pay ever-higher prices for fuel if oil companies retain their monopoly. New jobs in clean fuels industries won’t materialize without investment.”
An independent economic analysis by Jack Faucett Associates found Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program could save Oregonians as much as $1.6 billion in fuel costs; create between 800 and 29,000 jobs; grow personal income by as much as $2.6 billion; and generate as much as $2.1 billion in Gross State Product.
“The main opponent of the Clean Fuels Program, Western States Petroleum Association, is putting its profits before the interests of Oregon families,” says Gregg Small, executive director of Climate Solutions. “Rather than taking on shared responsibility for the harm petroleum is doing to our planet and our children, Big Oil is doing everything it can to stand in the way of a clean fuels future. In fact, Big Oil is taking a huge backward step by choosing to develop tar-sands oil instead of investing its profits in fuels that don’t pollute our air and water.”
Moving forward, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality will continue to implement the program until 2015, and the Clean Fuels Now coalition is committed to lifting the sunset in the 2014 legislative session if the vote is not reversed this session.
About Clean Fuels Now
Clean Fuels Now is a coalition of nearly 120 businesses and organizations that support a transition to cleaner, homegrown fuels for the benefit of Oregon’s economy and environment. See more at cleanfuelsnow.com