Washington legislature passes CFS bill, delivers bill to governor

By Erin Voegele | April 26, 2021

Both chambers of the Washington State Legislature on April 25 voted to approve a bill that will create a state-wide Clean Fuel Standard. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted a statement in approval later that day and is expected to sign the bill soon.

The legislation, HB 1091, was introduced in January. The Washington House of Representatives on Feb. 27 voted 52 to 46 to pass the bill. The Washington Senate on April 8 voted 27 to 20 in favor of an amended version of the bill. The House refused to concur to the Senate’s version of the amended bill on April 20. A conference committee was later convened. The Senate approved the conference committee report by a vote of 26 to 23 on April 25. The House voted 54 to 43 to adopt the conference committee report later that day. The legislation was delivered to the governor on April 26.

“Today Washington advances on the path to cleaner transportation with the passage of HB 1091, the Clean Fuels bill,” Inslee tweeted on April 25. “We join our West Coast neighbors—BC, OR, and CA—in decreasing climate pollution from our cars and trucks by boosting electric vehicles and lower-carbon biofuels.”

The bill requires the Washington Department of Ecology to adopt rules to implement a CFS by 2023. The program would limit the aggregate, overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emission per unit of transportation fuel energy to 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. The requirement phases in with up to a 0.5 percent reduction for each year in 2023 and 2024, no more than an additional 1 percent each year beginning in 2025 through 2027, no more than an additional 1.5 percent each year beginning in 2028 through 2031, and no change in 2032 and 2033.

Beginning in 2028, the bill limits carbon intensity reductions required by the CFS beyond a 10 percent reduction in carbon intensity until there is at least a 15 percent 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, more than 60 MMgy has or have received after July 1, 2021, all necessary siting, operating and environmental permits. As part of the 60 MMgy threshold, the bill also states that at least one new facility producing at least 10 MMgy must have received all necessary siting, operating and environmental permits.

The legislation also includes a provision that states that beginning in 2031, carbon reduction requirements required by the CFS cannot be set beyond a 10 percent reduction until a required joint legislative audit and review committee report is completed and the 2033 regular legislative season has adjourned.

Certain fuels are to be exempted from the requirements of the CFS, including transportation fuels exported from Washington; fuels used for the propulsion of aircraft, vessels, and railroad locomotives; and fuels used in the operational of military tactical vehicles and tactical support equipment. Certain fuels are also exempted until Jan. 1, 2028, including special fuel used off-road in vehicles used primarily to transport logs; dyed fuel used in certain applications, including mining and timber harvest; and dyed special fuel used for certain agricultural purposes.

Clean Fuel Washington has spoken out to applaud passage of the HB  1094. “Today Washington state choose to become a global climate leader by reducing fossil transportation fuels, which are the number one cause of climate pollution in our state,” said Tim Zenk, organizer of Clean Fuel Washington. “The citizens of Washington, its legislature and Governor today courageously fought the forces of Big Oil and made history by passing a Clean Fuel Standard that will reduce emissions that are causing climate change.”

“Our future turned bright and clear today in Washington, we are the tipping point for the change that is coming to this nation and world to make fossil fuels extinct and save our planet,” continued Zenk. “But our work is not over. We can celebrate tonight; but let’s get right back to work on Monday working to implement the Clean Fuels standard, creating jobs and building clean energy production with renewable fuel refineries across the state.”

“We now look forward to Governor Inslee signing this important bill into law and continuing to lead a clean energy future for Washington,” he added. “We will work with lawmakers, policymakers, advocates, and fuel makers to ensure a Clean Fuel Standard is implemented equitably and efficiently.”

A full copy of the bill can be downloaded from the Washington State Legislature website.