Sponsored by Oregon Business

Walker attacks ethanol law

| Print |  Email
Archives - September 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008


SALEM Just weeks before Eastern Oregon gas stations will be required to sell fuel blended with ethanol, one lawmaker is already reconsidering the state’s year-old renewable fuel mandate, provoking an industry that’s invested upward of $300 million to produce ethanol in, and for, the Oregon market.

Sen. Vicki Walker (D-Eugene) calls ethanol a “boondoggle” and says one of her top priorities in the next legislative session is to repeal or retool the requirement that all unleaded fuel sold in the state be at least 10% ethanol. Walker voted for the law, but now calls her decision a mistake. She says most of her other Natural Resources Committee members side with her.

As more states set biofuel standards and more drivers begin to use it, ethanol as a viable alternative to conventional gas is coming under fresh scrutiny at a time when gas prices are soaring.

Walker says the gas mileage in her Toyota Camry hybrid has dipped since she started using the blended fuel, an ethanol side effect the industry acknowledges. She also blames the increased use of corn for ethanol for rising food prices, although experts continue to debate this. “We have created a very expensive alternative to fuel,” she says.

In June, the new Cascade Grain plant in Clatskanie began producing its goal of 113 million gallons of ethanol per year. President Charles Carlson says the $200 million plant was built in Oregon because of the renewable fuel law, and vows to fight any attempt to overturn it.

It’s a “knee-jerk reaction” Carlson says of Walker’s plans. When locally produced and sold, ethanol drives down prices at the pump and reduces dependence on foreign oil, he says.

The Oregon Environmental Council recognizes corn ethanol isn’t the most efficient alternative fuel, but supports the law because it lays the infrastructure for future investment and research in Oregon into other biofuels such as cellulostic ethanol, says John Galloway, program director.

“Corn ethanol is the only market-ready crop right now,” says Tim Raphael, director of government affairs for Sacramento-based Pacific Ethanol. Last year the company completed a $100 million ethanol plant in Boardman. In January the federal Department of Energy awarded the company $25 million to research and produce cellulosic ethanol at its Boardman facility.

Repealing the law would have a “chilling effect” on similar research and investment, says Raphael.                    


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


More Articles

Reader Input: In or Out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The refugee crisis has put immigration and border issues on the front burner, in Europe and at home. In Oregon, attitudes toward illegal immigration haven’t changed dramatically since 2006.


Big Geek

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

To attract technology companies, the U.S. Bancorp Tower repositions itself as open, light and playful.


Child care challenge

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
0927OHSUhealthystarts-thumbBY KIM MOORE AND LINDA BAKER

Child care in Oregon is expensive and hard to find. We delved into the numbers and talked to a few executives and managers about day care costs, accessibility and work-life balance.


5 takeaways from the rural Oregon economic report

The Latest
Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released a report on the vitality of rural Oregon this week.  Media reports focused on the number of Californians moving to the "Timber Belt," but the document contained other interesting insights regarding regional challenges and successes.


Mayoral musings

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
091515-mayors-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the year of the outsider, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump capturing leads in the polls and the headlines. In Portland, Wheeler vs. Hales is bucking the outlier trend.


Ranking the airlines that fly PDX

The Latest
Friday, August 14, 2015

17 airlines make stops at Portland International Airport, but not all are created equal when it comes to customer service.


New green wood building product takes off in Oregon

Thursday, September 10, 2015
091115-cltjohnson-thumbBY KIM MOORE

Oregon is set to become a hub of a new type of wooden building design as a southern Oregon timber company becomes the first certified manufacturer of a high-tech wood product, known as cross-laminated timber, or CLT.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02