Ore. Gov. Brown signs clean fuel standard law 

Source: Nathanael Massey, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, March 16, 2015

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed off on Oregon’s low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) yesterday, paving the way for the program to go into effect next year.

S.B. 324 removes the Dec. 31, 2015, sunset date from Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program, which has been in place since 2009. Under the program, the carbon content of fuel burned in the state must be cut 10 percent by 2025, with the first cuts beginning next year.

“I strongly support S.B. 324’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is difficult to deny that we are seeing the effects of a warming planet,” Brown said. Oregon has already begun to feel the approach of those impacts, she said, citing a record-warm winter and low levels of snowpack in the state.

S.B. 324 includes a new cost containment mechanism for Oregon’s LCFS, which replaces a clause suspending the standard if gas prices in the state rise more than 5 percent above those of its neighbors.

The bill passed in the state Senate in February and passed in the House of Representatives last week by the margin of a single vote. Republican in both chambers tried a number of tactics to block its passage, including tying it to former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) and his girlfriend, Cylvia Hayes. Kitzhaber stepped down last month amid allegations that Hayes had used her role as first lady to advance her own consulting business.

Oregon is the second state in the nation to adopt a state fuel standard, and its approach shares much in common with California, whose standard has been in effect since 2010.

Shortly after Brown signed S.B. 324 into law, California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols issued a statement of congratulations. The governor’s action “provides a solid reminder that no individual jurisdiction must face this battle alone — and that only by working together can we make a difference far beyond the limitations of any single government,” she said in the statement.

Brown, too, stressed the importance of regional momentum. “With California, Washington, and British Columbia moving forward with their own clean fuels programs, which will shape the West Coast market, it is imperative not only that Oregon does its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also that we build a program that meets the needs of Oregonians,” she said.

British Columbia’s Legislature approved an LCFS in 2008, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has vowed to bring his state on board, as well, although he has faced some pushback from Washington’s Republican-controlled Senate.