House approves clean fuels bill

OLYMPIA – A measure addressing the state’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions by establishing a Clean Fuels Program similar to those already successfully underway in British Columbia, California, and Oregon cleared the state House today.

House Bill 1110, sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-West Seattle, would improve local air quality and provide economic benefits to Washington’s communities by increasing demand for biofuels produced in the state.

“It is long past time for Washington to join our neighbors to the north and south in adopting a strong program to reduce pollution from transportation fuels. We owe it to present and future generations to take strong action to protect our climate, clean our air, and grow clean energy jobs, and this bill takes us a big step in the right direction,” Fitzgibbon said.

The transportation sector represents nearly half of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions. The bill directs the Washington State Department of Ecology to adopt a rule establishing a Clean Fuels Program that would limit greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will also help reduce the state’s contributions to climate change. The most recent National Climate Assessment, a federal report prepared by hundreds of scientists, details the disruptive impacts anticipated in the United States and the Pacific Northwest if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed.

If the bill makes it all the way through the Legislature, Washington would finally join its west coast neighbors in adopting a Clean Fuels Program. This would create opportunities for Washington producers of clean transportation fuels – from biodiesel, to renewable natural gas, to the clean electricity produced by the state’s utilities. The policy itself is technology-neutral, not mandating use of any specific renewable fuel. Currently, Washingtonians spend $9 billion annually on gasoline and diesel while the vast majority of locally-produced clean fuels are shipped to states where Clean Fuels Programs are already in place.

Prior to passing the full House, the bill advanced through the House Environment & Energy, Transportation, and Appropriations committees. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.