Washington solicits comments on potential clean fuel standard

By Erin Voegele | February 13, 2015

The Washington Department of Ecology recently published a discussion document to jumpstart dialogue on a potential rulemaking for a state clean fuel standard. According to information released by the department, it was directed by Gov. Jay Inslee to engage the public, interested parties and legislators prior to any rulemaking activities to elicit ideas and discussion about a potential clean fuel standard. Public comments are being accepted on the discussion document through March 4.

The clean fuel standard would set limits on the amount of carbon in transportation fuels within the state. Those who produce or import fuels in the state would be required to gradually introduce less-polluting fuels.

Before the discussion document was drafted, the Washington Office of Financial Management commissioned a clean fuel standard analysis that evaluated the economic impacts and availability of alternative fuels. According to the Department of Ecology, that analysis projected job growth, increased personal income and an adequate supply of alternative fuels under almost all scenarios considered. Gasoline and diesel costs were projected to increase by 2 cents a gallon in 2020, with gasoline increasing by 10 cents per gallon and diesel increasing 12 cents per gallon by 2026.

Documents published by the Department of Ecology indicate 2012 is being considered as the baseline for carbon reduction measurements. The reduction requirements would phase in gradually, reaching 10 percent in 2026.

Regarding fuel pathways, the discussion document allows using the hundreds of approved pathways already used in the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Oregon is using the same pathways in its low carbon fuel program. The Department of Ecology notes that by adopting these same pathways for the Washington program, the burden would be reduced on regulated parties, as the approved fuel pathways would be consistent across the West Coast. However, fuel producers would be allowed to apply for a Washington-specific pathway if that makes sense for them and their fuel product. The discussion document also uses the same reporting system that Oregon and California use, which simplifies the reporting and credit system, bringing efficiency to West Coast fuel producers and importers.

The Department of Ecology plans to hold two informational and public comment meetings. The first is scheduled for Feb. 19 in Seattle. The second is scheduled for Feb. 23 in Spokane. Comments can also be submitted via an online form posted to the department’s website. Additional information on the hearings and links to the discussion document and summary can be found on the Department of Ecology website.