Sponsored by Lane Powell

Walker attacks ethanol law

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

ethanol

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.                    

JASON SHUFFLER


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

 

More Articles

Convention Wisdom

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

After more than a decade of wrangling, construction on a convention center hotel in Portland is slated to start this summer. But debate over project financing continues.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

March 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Employment in Oregon is almost back up to prerecession levels — and employers are having to work harder to entice talented staff to join their ranks. This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project showcases the kind of quality workplaces that foster happy employees. 


Read more...

A legislative preview — and celebration

Linda Baker
Friday, January 23, 2015
012315-speaker-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The Northwest Environmental Business Council previews the 2015 legislative agenda as Hatch Oregon celebrates Oregon's new community crowdfunding rules.


Read more...

Thy neighbor's house

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Vacasa may lack the name recognition of Airbnb. But not for long.


Read more...

Will Medford Ever Be Cool?

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.


Read more...

Finding a Balance

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, January 29, 2015
012915-passinvst-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Active vs. passive investing: what you need to know.


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Tortoise and the Hare

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015

The day after this issue goes to press, the city of Medford will host its annual business conference. The event features Minoli Ratnatunga, co-author of the Milken Institute’s annual “Best-Performing Cities” report. Preliminary data suggests that Medford is likely to retain its No. 1 ranking among best-performing small cities for having a higher concentration of high-tech firms than the national average. 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS