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Clean Fuels 101

What is carbon intensity?
Carbon intensity is lifecycle emissions (sometimes called “well-to-wheels”) and refers to how much total pollution is generated in the production, transport, storage and use of a fuel in a vehicle.

Clean Fuels Well to wheels

This includes the pollution created from extraction of crude oil or from growing and harvesting crops for biofuels.

Clean Fuels crop to biofuels

What are "Clean Fuels?"
"Clean fuels" are fuels that have a lower carbon intensity than the standard for the fuel it replaces. Examples of clean fuels include most types of ethanol, biodiesel, natural gas, biogas, electricity, propane and hydrogen.

How much do clean fuels cost?
The U.S. Department of Energy publishes a monthly Alternative Fuel Price Report which provides regional alternative and conventional fuel prices for biodiesel blends, compressed natural gas, E85, propane, gasoline and diesel. Prices may vary locally depending on location and wholesale vs. retail prices.

Where can I get clean fuels in Oregon?
The U.S. Department of Energy also publishes an interactive map of where to find biodiesel blends, compressed natural gas, electricity, E85, hydrogen, liquefied natural gas and propane.

Is there enough commercially-available clean fuels to meet the 10 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of Oregon’s fuels by 2025?
The 2014 ICF study concluded there is enough lower-carbon fuel to meet the Oregon standards in 2025. The 2015 ICCT study also shows that lower-carbon fuels can reduce the carbon intensity of the entire Pacific Coast region up to 21 percent by 2030. Each study shows that reductions are achievable through multiple scenarios.

What happens if there isn’t enough clean fuels?
In order to comply with the standards, fuel importers can blend lower carbon liquid biofuels such as ethanol, biodiesel or renewable diesel or provide alternative fuels such as natural gas, biogas, electricity, propane or hydrogen. This flexibility allows importers to choose between alternatives based on what works best for them and what’s least expensive and also provides multiple options in case another one doesn’t materialize. Also, the current rule authorizes the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to suspend or modify the Clean Fuel Program requirements if supplies of lower carbon fuels are lower than what is needed to comply.

Will the Clean Fuels Program affect fuel prices?
All clean fuels are cheaper than the gasoline or diesel they replace. Considerations must also be made for the additional costs of infrastructure investment or vehicle purchases that might be needed. In conducting its fiscal and economic analysis, DEQ used studies from Washington and California that indicated the potential for a four to 19 cent-per-gallon increase in the last year of the program. With the new authority language contained in SB 324, DEQ can develop new ways to monitor and manage the availability of credits and credit prices to be more effective in containing the program’s costs.

Will the program mandate 15 percent ethanol (E15) in gasoline?
No. By statute and as required by the Oregon Renewable Fuel Standard, gasoline in Oregon cannot contain more than 10 percent ethanol. The Clean Fuels Program does not supersede this blending requirement, but it might change the type of ethanol blended to ones that are lower carbon. Some new engines are warrantied for 15 percent ethanol gasoline, but the Legislature will have to adopt changes to the current law before it is allowed in Oregon.

Will the program mandate higher blends of biodiesel in my diesel?
No. By rule, diesel in Oregon must contain at least five percent biodiesel or renewable diesel in order to comply with the Oregon Renewable Fuel Standard. Diesel can contain more biodiesel if requested by a user; there is much interest in 20 percent up to 99 percent blends. Most older engines are warrantied up to five percent and most newer engines are warrantied up to 20 percent. The Clean Fuels Program does not supersede the minimum blending requirements of the Oregon Renewable Fuel Standard, but it might change the type of biodiesel blended to ones that are lower carbon.

For more information on this program, call 503-229-5388 or email Oregon Clean Fuels.

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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
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