The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission this week approved phase two of the Oregon Clean Fuels Program, which seeks to cut greenhouse gases by lowering the carbon content in Oregon transportation fuels. The new rules, developed by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, will go into effect February 1.
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is pleased that the commission decided to exclude indirect emissions when calculating the carbon intensity of various fuels regulated under the state’s Clean Fuels Program (CFP). “Oregon officials used common sense and good judgment in proposing and approving the framework for Phase 2 of the CFP. All fuels have indirect carbon effects,” said RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Oregon did the right thing by taking a careful approach to indirect effects and not putting the policy cart in front of the science horse. We hope other jurisdictions considering LCFS-like policies will follow the lead of Oregon and British Columbia when it comes to carbon intensity scoring.”
In its recommendations to the Commission, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reported that “Recent data has shown that both food (human and animal) and fuel production has increased while the amount of land farmed has stayed constant.” Thus, DEQ proposed to exclude ILUC emissions for now and resolved to “…continue to monitor the status of technical work on this issue and will determine whether to recommend including ILUC and other indirect effects in a subsequent rulemaking, as appropriate.”
The Oregon CFP is similar to the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) in that both programs aim for a 10 percent reduction in the carbon intensity (CI) of transportation fuels used in the state over a 10-year period. However, Oregon’s approach bases CI estimates only on verifiable, direct emission while the California LCFS uses predictive economic modeling scenarios to penalize certain biofuels for theoretical “indirect land use change” (ILUC) emissions, while assuming no other fuels induce any indirect GHG emissions at all, according to RFA.
Dinneen also pointed out that new real-world global land use data is casting doubt on scenarios used by California for the LCFS that penalize biofuels like ethanol.