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Washington governor signs clean fuels bill into law; 20% reduction in GHG by 2038 from 2017 levels

Washington state governor Jay Inslee signed into law HB 1091, legislation which directs the Department of Ecology to develop a low carbon fuel standard for the state. The overall goal is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to each unit of the fuels to 20% below 2017 levels by 2038 based on the following schedule:

  • No more than 0.5 percent each year in 2023 and 2024;

  • No more than an additional one percent each year beginning in 2025 through 2027;

  • No more than an additional 1.5 percent each year beginning 22 in 2028 through 2031; and

  • No change in 2032 and 2033.

The rules must establish a start date for the clean fuels program of no later than 1 January 2023.

Beginning with the program year beginning in calendar year the department may not increase the carbon intensity reductions required by the applicable clean fuels program standard beyond a 10% reduction in carbon intensity until the department demonstrates that the following have occurred:

  • At least a 15% net increase in the volume of in-state liquid biofuel production and the use of feedstocks grown or produced within the state relative to the start of the program; and

  • At least one new or expanded biofuel production facility representing an increase in production capacity or producing, in total, in excess of 60,000,000 gallons of biofuels per year has or have received after 1 July 2021, all necessary siting, operating, and environmental permits post all timely and applicable appeals.

    As part of the threshold of 60,000,000 gallons of biofuel, at least one new facility producing at least 10,000,000 gallons per year must have received all necessary siting, operating, and environmental permits.

The rules must include standards for greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the transportation fuels throughout their life cycles, including but not limited to emissions from the production, storage, transportation, and combustion of transportation fuels and from changes in land use associated with transportation fuels and any permanent greenhouse gas sequestration activities.

The program rules must include exemptions for:

  • Fuels used in volumes below thresholds adopted by the department;

  • Fuels used for the propulsion of all aircraft, vessels, and railroad locomotives; and

  • Fuels used for the operation of military tactical vehicles and tactical support equipment.

Other exemptions, which will be good only until 1 January 2028, include:

  • Special fuel used off-road in vehicles used primarily to transport logs;

  • Dyed special fuel used in vehicles that are not designed primarily to transport persons or property, that are not designed to be primarily operated on highways, and that are used primarily for construction work including, but not limited to, mining and timber harvest operations; and

  • Dyed special fuel used for agricultural purposes.


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