Oregon hearing addresses sunset date of state LCFS

By Erin Voegele | March 20, 2013

On March 18 the Oregon Senate Committee on Environmental and Natural Resources held a public hearing on S.B. 488, which aims to repeal the sunset date of the state’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) program, officially known as the Oregon Clean Fuels Program. The hearing was carried over to continue during the committee’s meeting on March 20.

The legislation was introduced Feb. 7, and referred to the Environment and Natural Resources committee on Feb. 11. The measure would essentially remove the Dec. 31, 2015 sunset date from the state law authorizing the program. The bill has been sponsored by the Committee on Business and Transportation.

Legislation establishing the Oregon LCFS was passed by the Oregon legislature in 2009. The standard aims to reduce the average amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of fuel energy by 10 percent from 2010 levels by 2020.

In late 2012, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted to implement phase one of the program. Phase one requires entities that either produce fuel within Oregon or import it into the state to register and report to the state Department of Environmental Quality the volume of fuel they provide within the state. The second phase of the program, which has not yet been implemented, would require regulated parties to reduce the GHG emissions associated with the fuels they provide by 10 percent compared to 2010 levels.

State Sen. Lee Beyer opened the March 18 hearing, testifying in support of eliminating the sunset date of the LCFS program. He said he supports the measure and thinks it points Oregon in the right direction. He spoke briefly about the issues associated with climate change, and stressed that eliminating the LCFS sunset date would help provide assurance and regulatory certainty for entrepreneurs and members of industry considering making clean fuels investments within the state.

Margi Hoffmann, who serves as energy policy advisor to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, was also on hand to lend her support to the measure. “Energy is the single issue of our time, both globally and here in Oregon,” she said. “No single issue will have greater impact on our state’s economy, environment and quality of life [in] the coming decade. The central question is always whether we are going to share our energy future, or we will be shaped by our energy future.”

During her presentation, Hoffmann stressed there are several reasons why it is important to address the LCFS sunset date right now. “The cost of gasoline has been rising and will continue to rise. Currently there is a monopoly on fuels sector that subjects Oregon consumers to the fluctuation of a global commodity,” she said. “The clean fuels standard creates the regulatory certainty that we will diversify the fuels sector in Oregon and offer lower cost, lower carbon alternatives.” She also noted that the program serves as an important economic driver, as several advanced biofuels have already located within the state.

An audio recording of the hearing can be accessed on the OregonLive website, and written testimony can be downloaded from the Oregon State Legislature website