Washington House passes bill to create clean fuels program

By Erin Voegele | February 04, 2020

The state of Washington is one step closer to enacting a clean fuels program that would limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of transportation fuel to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035.

The Washington House of Representatives voted 52 to 44 in favor of legislation to enact the program on Jan. 29. The bill, HB 1110, was then read in the state Senate on Jan. 31 and referred to the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy and Technology. According to the Washington State Legislature website, a companion bill, SB 5412, was reintroduced in the Senate on Jan. 13. The Senate Committee on Environment, Energy and Technology held a hearing on SB 5412 on Jan. 16.

The effort to pass legislation to enact a clean fuels program in Washington has been ongoing for more than a year. The Washington House of Representatives voted in favor of HB 1110 in March 2019. The state’s Senate, however, failed to vote on the legislation during the 2019 legislative session.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee visited the Port of Seattle on Jan. 10 to call on the state legislature to adopt a Clean Fuel Standard during its 2020 legislative session. He was joined at the event by Alaska Airlines, which has announced its support for the program. “Transportation is far and away our state’s largest source of carbon pollution—making up nearly half the total,” Inslee said during that event. “The Clean Fuel Standard is the cheapest and best opportunity we have, bar none, to reduce carbon pollution from transportation at this scale.”

Also at the Jan. 10 event, State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, who sponsored HB 1110, indicated his intent to move the bill to the House floor for a vote early in the 2020 session and to work with Senate advocates to secure passage of the bill.

The Port of Seattle issued a statement on Jan. 30 in support of the House vote to pass HB 1110, noting the clean fuels program has been a top legislative priority for the port for the past three years.

“The economic and environmental havoc caused by the increasing prevalence and intensity of forest fires and decline in Puget Sound marine life underscore the urgency to reduce carbon emissions,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman in a statement. “Having access to renewable fuels produced in Washington state could instantly reduce the environmental and community impacts of all transportation sectors.”

As the operator of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the region’s the largest seaport, the Port of Seattle said it is deeply invested in decreasing the carbon emissions associated with its operations and facilities. According to the port, passage of HB 1110 creates the incentives needed to further its work across all port facilities and create a local supply chain for sustainable aviation fuels.