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Oregon EQC votes to expand Clean Fuels Program, denies petition for Metolius River designation

Oregon DEQ

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission on Friday unanimously approved a significant expansion of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Clean Fuels Program, which helps reduce emissions that cause climate change.

Additionally, the commission denied a petition to designate Oregon’s Metolius River as an Outstanding Resource Water on the grounds that the petition was incomplete and failed to address tribal and sovereign government issues.

The revised clean fuel rules set new targets for reducing the carbon intensity – or lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions – of transportation fuels used in Oregon. The current reduction target is 10% below 2015 levels by 2025 and the new reduction targets are: 20% lower by 2030 and 37% lower by 2035. These more aggressive targets help ensure that Oregon will continue to lead in its efforts to lessen the amount of carbon emitted through transportation.

The transportation sector is the largest single source of carbon emissions in Oregon, responsible for 37% of the state’s emissions. The Clean Fuels Program is one of Oregon’s most successful statewide policies for addressing the state’s contribution to global climate change and expanding its targets will brings us nearer to achieving those goals.

Expanding these targets will:
• Provide lower-carbon fuel providers with valuable incentives to continue to bring their products to Oregon
• Increase the availability and lower the cost of low-carbon liquid fuels that can be used by existing internal combustion engines
• Bring down the cost of the transition to zero emission technologies like electric and fuel cell vehicles
• Reduce tailpipe air pollutants that disproportionately harm communities that live closest to our transportation corridors

Clean Fuels Background
Since 2016, the Clean Fuels Program has supported the reduction of 7.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and has displaced nearly 1.5 billion gallons of fossil fuels with cleaner ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel, electricity, and renewable forms of natural gas and propane. Electric utilities have invested over $45 million in grants that provide community-based organizations with electric vehicles and chargers, community colleges with workforce training programs, statewide media campaigns, and the state’s first electric school buses.

For more information, go to the Clean Fuels Program website at: https://www.oregon.gov/deq/ghgp/cfp/Pages/default....

Metolius River petition

The EQC received a petition on June 27 from Friends of the Metolius and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center requesting to grant special protections for the Metolius by designating the river as an Outstanding Resource Water. Such a designation carries prohibitions on new discharges or other activities that might degrade water quality.

While DEQ agrees that the Metolius is a special river, the petitioners did not consult with Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs – the river borders tribal land. The petition also did not address the complexity of uses along and near the river, including a fish hatchery, campgrounds and homes.

The EQC agreed that protecting the Metolius is a priority. DEQ recommends that if the petitioners wish to pursue this proposal further they should consult with the Warm Springs tribal government and the U.S. Forest Service and then bring the proposal forward as part of Oregon’s triennial review of Oregon’s water quality standards.

Article Topic Follows: Jefferson County

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