The contentious bill is on its way to the House of Representatives after being approved by the Senate.
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
The Oregon Senate passed the contentious SB 324 — or Clean Fuels Program — Tuesday afternoon.
Oil companies must reduce carbon pollution from their gasoline by 10 percent over 10 years under the program.
In a news release, the chief sponsor of Senate Bill 324 and chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee lauded the passage of the bill.
“This is a historic day for Oregon and the world is watching as we lead on innovative solutions to reduce carbon pollution from fuels,” said Senator Chris Edwards (D-Eugene/Junction City). “Today we are demonstrating that we can reduce carbon pollution, increase consumer choice, and create jobs right here at home.”
The news release from the Senate Majority Office described the bill as such:
SB 324 makes the adoption of rules by the Environmental Quality Commission surrounding Clean Fuels mandatory. The Program is technology-neutral, and fuel importers have flexible options to meet the standard. Oil companies can blend low-carbon biofuels into their fuel mix, and/or purchase credits generated by projects supporting electric vehicles, natural gas, propane, and other clean fuels. Oregonians will have more access to a variety of fuels as a result of the Clean Fuels Program, creating a more diverse, affordable, healthy, and stable fuel mix.
“The Clean Fuels Program is a smart, pragmatic approach to protecting our environment and encouraging innovating investments,” said Senator Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) in the release. “Removing this sunset is an important step toward reducing our dependence on petroleum and channeling those dollars into Oregon’s economy.”
From the release:
Extending the Clean Fuels Program will give investors and entrepreneurs the certainty they need to expand production of alternative fuels and build additional facilities. That means new jobs in both rural and urban communities across Oregon. The Clean Fuels industry in Oregon has already generated hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and created thousands of jobs. Independent analysis has found that extending the program could save Oregonians more than $1.6 billion in fuel costs, create up to 29,000 jobs, and add $2.6 billion to Oregonians’ personal income.
Getting back to voting on legislation is something Democrats in Salem were looking forward to at the end of last week, when it was unclear if Gov. John Kitzhaber would resign. New governor Kate Brown is expected to be a champion of clean-energy measures and it's reasonable to expect the Clean Fuels Program to pass the House, which also has a Democratic majority.
“Promoting innovation in clean energy is key component of the Oregon Senate Democrats’ agenda for 2015,” said Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum (D-Portland) in the news release. “Senate Bill 324 will help support the growing green energy sector, power our economy, and help address the imminent threats that we face from global warming.”
A phone call to the Senate Republican Caucus communications director was not answered Tuesday afternoon.