Low-carbon fuel bill passes state House

By Joseph Claypoole

WNPS News Service

A low carbon fuel bill passed the state House of Representatives Feb. 27 in a 52-46 vote with every Republican voting no. Its next stop is the Senate.

The bill directs the Department of Ecology to institute rules that require refineries to produce fuels, like gasoline and diesel, to have reduced greenhouse gas output over time.

Current goals within the bill require emissions per unit of fuel to be 10% below 2017 levels by 2028, and 20% below 2017 levels by 2035.

The bill also requires an annual report from the DOE and guidelines for a credit system for related

companies that meet the new fuel emissions rules. Oregon and California already have similar programs.

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-West Seattle, the prime sponsor for the bill, said this credit system would make cleaner fuels cheaper for consumers. “Part of the goal is to lower the cost of fuels that are cleaner than gasoline and diesel,” Fitzgibbon said. “It provides another revenue stream for those producers and enables them to bring down the cost of those [cleaner] fuels.”

The finer details for a credit system have been left up to the DOE, but a framework of the credits being bankable and tradeable has been put in place.

House Republicans like Rep. Mary Dye, Pomeroy, are concerned that the policy will drive up the price of gas. “It will result in price increases in every sector of our economy which uses transportation, including the food on our tables” Dye said in a news release. “Every person who drives a vehicle will be impacted.”

Unlike the 1990 and 2007 federal legislation that required specific amounts of ethanol to be mixed with gas, this bill has no such hard policies. Instead, the means for lowering greenhouse gas emissions is left to producers and suppliers. Fuels used by aircraft, railroad locomotives, military vehicles and some others are exempt from the reduction requirements.

Other special fuels, like those used in some logging, construction and agricultural equipment, are exempt until Jan. 1, 2028.

The legislation met heavy opposition from farmers, oil and petroleum companies, and many others.

Robert Thompson, owner of Vintners Logistics, said the bill is a step in the wrong direction for smaller farms where equipment can’t utilize exempt fuels. “Adding a low carbon fuel standard is just a regressive tax,” he said. “We’re going to have to pass it on through every shipment. Every loaf of bread, gallon of milk, blanket for the homeless – it’s going to cost more.”

Concerns were also raised about job loss, lack of infrastructure, the timeline for implementation, and that, in California and Oregon, a majority of the benefits leave the state.

Jessica Spiegel, spokesperson for Western States Petroleum Association, said the bill is costly and ineffective. “The bill will regressively burden families and business with billions in infrastructure and fuel costs,” Spiegel said. “The California program has already added 24 cents to the cost of their gasoline.”

Those in favor of the bill, like Patrick Serfass, executive director of the American Biogas Council, argued the bill would actually provide economic growth. Serfass said Washington produces millions of tons of organic waste a year, most of which could be turned into biofuel. “Approving a policy like HB 1091 will incentivize new biogas systems to be built,” he said. “Not only to produce the renewable fuel, but also to create the infrastructure to recycle all this organic material.”

Fitzgibbon said the bill won’t just help the environment, but people as well – especially those who live near congested highways. “Transportation is by far the largest contributor of emissions in our state,” Fitzgibbon said. “The cleaner burning fuels don’t just emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions they also emit fewer of the air pollutants that harm human health.”

More in News

BI wants ferry service restored

Bainbridge Island wants its ferry system back. The city is sending a… Continue reading

The current skate park is for those with advanced abilities. File Photo
BI park prepares for major remodel

Also, COVID vax for all parks users?

.
2 more COVID-related deaths confirmed in Kitsap, 229 total

137 new cases confirmed over the weekend

The Bainbridge Island City Council will have a public meeting to decide on improvements on Eagle Harbor Drive. This idea was shot down because of how crowded it would be with cyclists and walkers on the same side going in different directions.
Environment not as important on this project

Safety concerns override that on Eagle Harbor plan

.
It’s a gamble not getting COVID vaccine

Many people still are not get vaccinated to protect themselves and others… Continue reading

Eldon Van Liere stands next to his late wife's painting of Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, where they often traveled together. Tyler Shuey/Bainbridge Island Review
BI artist’s work lives on after her passing

Bainbridge Island artist Elizabeth Van Liere passed away in 2020 and some… Continue reading

The author of this book will be in Bainbridge. Courtesy Photo
Bainbridge Island briefs

Protest exhibit The Bainbridge Island Historical Museum is opening a new exhibit… Continue reading

Roundabouts on Highway 305 divided the Bainbridge Island City Council candidates at a recent debate. Courtesy Illustration
LWV’s debate features rapid-fire answers

Compared with two earlier debates last week, Bainbridge Island City Council candidates… Continue reading

Most Read