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DEQ: Clean Fuels Standard cuts nearly 1 million tons of pollution


Oregon’s groundbreaking Clean Fuels Standard kept 929,105 tons of climate pollution from transportation out of the air in 2017, according to new calculations from the Department of Environmental Quality.

In its first two years, the Clean Fuels Standard reduced climate pollution by more than 1.7 million tons, the equivalent of taking nearly 365,000 cars off the road for an entire year, a news release Monday from the coalition Renew Oregon stated.

The standard requires the gradual reduction of global warming pollution from fuels used in Oregon, by 10 percent over 10 years, beginning in 2016. To meet the standard, oil companies can either blend in low-carbon biofuels with gasoline/diesel or invest in proven technologies like electric car charging, biogas made from waste, biodiesel and other clean fuels.

“Pollution from transportation is especially difficult to reduce. It’s great to see this program working as intended and giving Oregonians more options,” said Tera Hurst, Executive Director of Renew Oregon. “There are so many benefits to cleaner fuels, including improving health in our communities by reducing smog and soot, as well as greenhouse gases.”

Climate pollution from the transportation sector is growing and makes up almost 40 percent of Oregon’s carbon footprint, the largest source. Nationally, transportation emissions have become the US’s leading contributor to climate change. They continue to rise as power sector emissions decline. The Clean Fuels Standard is the only law that goes directly to reducing climate pollution from fuels.

More than 150 participants, both oil companies and clean fuel generators, are active in the program now, about a 50-percent increase from the first year. Businesses and organizations from Coburg to Sherwood, Klamath Falls to Boardman, and Portland to Medford are participating. Over a dozen of the new parties in the program are consumer-owned and public utilities, thanks to growing numbers of electric cars.

“The Clean Fuels Program continues to be a significant business driver for sustainable biodiesel,” said Ian Hill, co-founder of SeQuential and a participant in DEQ’s Clean Fuels Advisory Committee. “SeQuential is on track to increase our production volumes by approximately 50% by the end of 2019, thanks in part to increasing demand for ultra-low carbon fuels, such as our recycled feedstock biodiesel. It’s exciting to see the clean fuels program translate into tangible results for our industry.”

“We’re pleased to see Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program providing more choices and big benefits to individual drivers, family-owned businesses, and large fleets alike. Best yet, the program is serving Oregonians all throughout the state.” said Jana Gastellum, Climate Program Director for Oregon Environmental Council.

Renewable diesel fuel entered the mix in Oregon’s program for the first time in 2017, further expanding offerings which already include electricity, biodiesel, biogas and others. Fuel diversity is one of the ways a state can protect consumers from volatile, internationally-driven gasoline and diesel prices.

Oregon is a trailblazer; only the 2nd U.S. state to adopt a Clean Fuels Standard behind California, which is about to double its program‘s pollution reductions. British Columbia has a similar, successful program and the Canadian Federal Government is looking to take the standard nationwide.

“Our members have been supportive of Clean Fuels since the outset, and they are excited to see that companies are successfully participating in this program. It’s flexible, affordable, and has already reduced so much pollution,” said Paige Spence with the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.

Key Success Stories

Beaverton School District: The first school district in Oregon to enroll in the Clean Fuels Program. It’s the state’s largest publicly-owned school bus fleet and they’re making a transition to propane fuel. It’s less costly than diesel and burns cleaner, protecting the health of students, drivers and providing cleaner air in the neighborhoods where students live. By generating credits for clean fuels, more money will come into the district to serve students.

Biopropane–made from organic matter–is being made in Europe and California, further lowers climate pollution, and can be used in existing propane engines.

Fred Meyer: One of the first companies to sign on as a credit generator, Fred Meyer is saving money and reducing air pollution by utilizing renewable natural gas for their fleet of 40 trucks based out of their Clackamas distribution center. This move will reduce emissions by 5,328 metric tons annually. Each truck individually averages about 175 miles per day, six days a week, 52 weeks a year. By switching to a cleaner fuel, each truck will reduce its emissions by approximately 755 metric tons per year — the equivalent of taking approximately 159 passenger cars off the road each year.

City of Portland: Recently the City of Portland approved a groundbreaking project to convert waste methane from Portland’s sewage treatment process into renewable natural gas. The clean fuels will be sold in Portland and elsewhere to replace diesel fuel in trucks. This effort will generate upwards of $3 million in revenue a year, and replace 1.34 million gallons of dirty diesel fuel with clean renewable natural gas (enough to run 154 garbage trucks for a year). Clean fuel markets, like the Oregon Clean Fuels Standard, contribute to the financial health of projects like these.

Pacific Ethanol: Pacific Ethanol’s Boardman plant generates 40 million gallons of ethanol; provides 35 direct, living-wage jobs with benefits and supports more than 700 jobs servicing the production, marketing, maintenance and operations of its plant; and provides a cleaner, lower carbon fuel alternative for the transportation market. Pacific Ethanol’s Plant Manager, Daniel Koch states “clean fuels has allowed us to survive, invest and expand at our facility, and continued support will allow us to further invest and expand creating more jobs in Rural Oregon.”

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality 2017 report data can be found here:


Renew Oregon is a clean energy advocacy coalition of businesses and workers, health care professionals and parents, farmers and ranchers, faith and community organizations, and individuals coming together to move our state away from polluting energy to a clean energy economy. We are working to create good-paying jobs for all Oregonians, protect air and water from pollution, and help families stay healthy.

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