Oregon Adopts Low-Carbon Fuels Rules

By Paul Shukovsky

Dec. 10 — The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission found a middle ground between corn ethanol manufacturers and climate activists when it adopted amended rules to the state's Clean Fuels Program.

The new rules, adopted Dec. 9, make changes to the model for determining the life cycle carbon intensity of biofuels. Corn ethanol manufacturers sought an approach that would have resulted in an extremely low life cycle intensity for their product, and climate activists advocated for using a California Air Resources Board approach which pegs the intensity of corn ethanol at higher levels, Department of Environmental Quality air quality planner Cory Ann Wind told Bloomberg BNA Dec. 10 in a telephone interview.

The program—first established in 2009—calls for importers of transportation fuels to cut average carbon intensity of the fuels by meeting annual standards beginning Jan. 1, 2016, and eventually ramping up to a 10 percent cut by 2025 from the baseline year of 2015.

Oregon has no petroleum refineries.

The commission adopted all the staff recommendations, including one that said importers get an extra year to comply with the 0.25 percent cut required in 2016, the first year of implementation of the program, Wind said.

“If they have a deficit, they can carry it over into 2017,” when a 0.5 percent cut goes into effect, she said. “It gives the regulated community more time to comply, and it also gives providers of the clean fuels more time to develop the market” for selling credits to importers.

Indirect Emissions Considered

Wind said that corn-ethanol manufacturers had objected to modifying the model to take into account the impact of land use changes on emissions.

But the commission also adopted an Argonne National Laboratory number for the life cycle carbon intensity of corn ethanol instead of the one used by the California Air Resources Board, which pegs the intensity at more than twice that identified by the national lab.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Shukovsky in Seattle at pshukovsky@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com