Oregon’s Clean Fuels Standard: Exceeding Expectations, Creating Consumer Choice

Experts

Policy Counsel, Energy and Environment
Senior Communications Associate, Energy Policy

By Jason Kuruvilla on Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Consumers deserve more options when it comes to clean driving, and creating more fuel choices is one way to offer cleaner transportation, while boosting efficiency and lowering costs. Thanks to Oregon’s Clean Fuels Standard, consumers now have more options than ever before. Consumers Union advocated for its passage and now, one year into the program, we’re proud to celebrate its progress.

How Does the Program Work?

The Clean Fuels Program requires fuel producers and importers to decrease the carbon intensity of their fuels by 10% by 2025.  A fuel producer may improve the carbon intensity of the fuels they sell or buy credits from a company making cleaner fuels. These compliance targets create a market for home-grown clean fuels, including biofuels, and competition in the market helps keeps costs down for drivers. There are over 40 participants already providing more fuel options to Oregonians, thanks to the Clean Fuels Standard. The standard ranks fuels according to their life-cycle climate impact and the lowest carbon fuels generate the most credits, which creates a built-in incentive for continuous innovation and improvement.

More Choices and Lower Prices

The Clean Fuels Standard diversifies Oregon’s fuel supply and increases the availability of clean fuels, which are often more affordable than traditional gasoline. For example, charging with electricity costs the  equivalent of $1.00 per gallon in Oregon, while CNG and Biodiesel (B20) are cheaper than gasoline or diesel in Oregon and many other parts of the country. These are important savings, considering that the average Oregonian spends around $2,800 per year on fossil fuels. Locally-made and more diverse clean fuels are likely to have stable prices, giving businesses and consumers greater protection from oil price spikes.

Every tank of clean fuel used also displaces petroleum and cuts traditional air pollution, like smog. Displacing air pollution is a public health victory, too. Hundreds of thousands of Oregonians suffer from asthma, including over 80,000 children, according to the latest figures from the American Lung Association. Pollution from dirty energy only makes it worse — contributing to hundreds of premature deaths each year. The Clean Fuels Standard helps improve Oregon communities’ health, particularly the most vulnerable.

First Year of the Program   

In its first year, the Oregon Clean Fuels Standard has displaced more than 775,000 tons of climate pollution, and clean fuel businesses have created more than enough supply to keep the program running smoothly. Over the life of the program, it will likely reduce 8.4 million metric tons of climate pollution, the equivalent of taking 1.8 million cars off the road. This will especially help Oregon communities disproportionately impacted by polluted air.

The Oregon Clean Fuels Standard is expanding fuel choice, incentivizing innovation, and decreasing consumer costs in the near- and long- run. We’re excited to see one year into the program, the program is moving ahead in providing these consumer benefits. We hope that with each new year, fuels will get cleaner, the fuel supply will become more diverse, and consumers will continue to benefit from this innovative program.

 

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