Oregon Clean Fuels Program
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For the Clean Fuels Program, the term "clean" means that a fuel has a lower carbon intensity (i.e. emits less carbon pollution) than conventional gasoline or diesel throughout its lifecycle. Lifecycle emissions, sometimes called “well-to-wheels,” refer to how much total pollution is generated in the production, transport, storage and use of a fuel in a vehicle. This includes the pollution created from the extraction of crude oil or from growing and harvesting crops for biofuels. The carbon intensity of a fuel is measured as the amount of carbon emissions per unit of energy produced by burning the fuel.
The primary environmental benefit of using clean fuels is the reduction of greenhouse gases released. Greenhouse gases are the largest contributors to climate change. In addition, using cleaner fuels also reduces emissions of other air pollutants such as fine particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds.
Studies have shown a small increase in the amount of nitrogen oxides emitted when burning higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel. However, ethanol can reduce the emissions of carbon monoxide while other types of clean fuels, such as electricity, lower emissions of traditional and toxic air pollutants emitted from vehicles. The net change in urban air pollution from the use of clean fuels will be beneficial.
No. The Oregon Legislature directed DEQ to routinely monitor fuel prices to determine whether Oregon’s clean fuels program is causing price increases. If so, program requirements could then be deferred or eliminated to mitigate the increase. In the future, gas and diesel prices may increase or decrease over time for a wide variety of reasons, but in Oregon it won't be because of the Clean Fuels Program. In fact, many clean fuels such as electricity, natural gas, propane, ethanol and biodiesel are less expensive than the gasoline and diesel they replace.
No. The Oregon Legislature directed DEQ to routinely monitor the supply of fuels to determine whether Oregon’s clean fuels program is causing fuel shortages. DEQ will work with clean fuel producers to ensure that there are adequate supplies of cleaner fuel to meet the program’s needs. Program requirements could be deferred or eliminated to mitigate an anticipated shortage.
Possibly. There might be new investment in clean fuels research, additional biorefineries or more infrastructure to support new fuels. This may result in new jobs for the construction and operation of clean fuels production facilities and distribution network. See the economic analysis commissioned by DEQ during the development of this Program for more information.
The Oregon renewable fuels standard mandates a 10 percent ethanol blend for gasoline and a 5 percent biodiesel blend for diesel fuel used in Oregon for transportation purposes. However, the carbon intensity of ethanol and biodiesel can range from one tenth of petroleum fuels to the same or even more than petroleum fuels depending on a variety of factors so there is no guarantee that greenhouse gas emissions will actually decrease.
Oregon needs both the Oregon renewable fuel standard and the low carbon fuel standard to ensure that a minimum amount of renewable fuels gets used and that they actually result in less greenhouse gases.
The Federal renewable fuels standard mandates that a minimum amount of renewable fuels be produced in any given year on a national level. However, nothing in the federal requirement mandates that a given state receive its proportional share of fuel to be consumed; it is possible that none of the fuel will be used in Oregon.
DEQ used California's low carbon fuel standards program as a starting point and then customized to reflect Oregon's values and priorities as directed by the Legislature. Specifically, it includes safeguards that protect fuel consumers from supply shortages and price increases. It also provides exemptions and flexibilities for fuel producers and importers that do not appear in California’s program.
DEQ is watching the developments of the California lawsuit and will continue to analyze how it might affect Oregon’s program.
The administrative portion of the Clean Fuels Program is being implemented now. Oregon producers and importers of gasoline, diesel, ethanol and biodiesel are required to register with DEQ by June 30, 2013. They must begin to retain records of each fuel transaction beginning on July 1, 2013. They must submit a report summarizing their clean fuels activities covering the period from July 1 – Dec. 31, 2013 by April 30, 2014. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, the reports become quarterly. For more information, please see the Regulations webpage.
The carbon reduction portion of the Clean Fuels Program is not being implemented. Fuel suppliers do not have to meet the average carbon intensity standards. Fuel suppliers are not required to change the types of fuels they are currently supplying. Producers of natural gas, electricity, propane, hydrogen or any other alternative fuel are not required to register, keep records or report nor can they generate or sell credits.
Fuels used in agricultural applications and log trucks are exempt by statute. In addition, fuels used in ocean-going vessels, railroad locomotives, and engines with special performance needs including aircraft, racing vehicles and military vehicles are exempt by rule.
No. The Oregon Department of Agriculture implements the Oregon Renewable Fuel Standard, which regulates ethanol blends. By statute, gasoline in Oregon cannot contain more than 10 percent ethanol.
DEQ designed the program to regulate at the highest point of the supply chain: the Oregon producer or importer of fuel. Individual gas stations should not be affected by this program unless they import their own fuel. In the few cases where individual gas stations are importers, the current rules only require them to register with DEQ; recordkeeping and reporting requirements do not apply.
No. By statute, gasoline can only be blended with 10 percent ethanol and diesel with 5 percent biodiesel. All underground storage tanks and dispensing equipment in place are already approved to handle these blends. The Clean Fuels Program alone cannot increase these blend rates; it will take a Legislative action to change this statute. As part of that action, the technical feasibility and fiscal impact of upgrading equipment to blend to a higher ethanol or biodiesel rate will need to be considered.
I already report fuel information to the Oregon Department of Transportation, why do I need to report to DEQ?
The Oregon Department of Transportation does not require reporting of fuel carbon intensity.
Yes. The bill contains a sunset date of Dec. 31, 2015.
DEQ is only implementing the administrative phase of the program at this time because it provides useful information for the Legislature to consider whether to the reauthorize the program. Implementation of the carbon reduction phase of the program will not happen until the program is reauthorized. If the program is reauthorized, an additional rulemaking by the Environmental Quality Commission is needed to adopt and implement the carbon reduction phase of the program.
The development of the Oregon Clean Fuels Program has been funded partially by a federal grant (to develop greenhouse gas strategies) and partially by general funds that are budgeted to DEQ’s Air Quality Program for statewide planning activities.
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