Transportation is the primary source of climate pollution in the Puget Sound region. Without addressing transportation fuels, we simply can’t achieve our region’s long-term goals for limiting climate change. A Clean Fuel Standard is a major step towards taking responsibility for our share of the problem.
The Agency analyzed several possible transportation actions that could move the region toward our greenhouse gas reduction target. A Clean Fuel Standard showed the greatest potential to decrease transportation pollution.
Other strategies, like carbon pricing, are effective in addressing climate change, but do not create significant changes within the transportation sector as quickly as necessary to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
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Carbon intensity is the total amount of carbon dioxide (or equivalent) generated from a type of fuel. It includes the complete lifecycle of the fuel pathway (often called “wells to wheels”) from production to transportation to consumption. Carbon intensity is used to measure and compare different fuels’ impact on climate change, and set targets for reductions.
We strongly support the state adopting a Clean Fuel Standard. Unfortunately, the state has not chosen to do so even though climate change needs to be urgently addressed.
We are proposing a standard for the Clean Air Agency’s jurisdiction of King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, which represents about half of the population of Washington and half of the state’s transportation pollution.
Yes. Multiple independent studies have reached the same conclusion – there are enough clean fuels for the Puget Sound region to meet a Clean Fuel Standard.
We expect a small increase. Based on what we are seeing in California and Oregon, as well as a Washington State study, we anticipate a maximum increase of approximately 1-2 cents per gallon each year of the program for gasoline and diesel.
Fuel costs typically fluctuate significantly based on the market cost of crude oil. For instance, in a one-year period from October 2017 to October 2018, gas prices in Washington increased over 40 cents per gallon because of the increase in the price of crude on the international market. This cost increase did not provide any added benefits to citizens of our region and does not reflect the costs that petroleum consumption imposes on society in the form of health impacts and climate change. The potential added cost at the gas pump from a Clean Fuel Standard is significantly less and provides meaningful benefits for our citizens, including improving air quality and public health and mitigating climate change.
Like the rest of the U.S., fossil fuel prices in Oregon and California fluctuate up and down based largely on crude oil prices (for example, they have ranged from about $2.00 to more than $4.00 per gallon in the last 10 years). An increase due solely to the Clean Fuel policies is hard to see in the “noise” of gasoline and diesel pump price fluctuations, but does appear to be small.
The estimated maximum increase of gas cost per gallon attributable to the Clean Fuel Standard in Oregon for 2017, based on carbon intensity reduction and credit price, was less than a penny. This is a maximum estimate that assumes fuel providers must buy all of their credits (rather than make improvements) and pass 100% of their cost on to consumers. Oregon’s program was established in 2016 and has decreased transportation fuel carbon intensity by approximately 1%.
California’s maximum estimated pass-through cost for gasoline attributable to their Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), based on carbon intensity reduction and credit price, was 13 cents per gallon total in 2018 or about a penny and a half increase for each year of the program. Again, this is a maximum estimate that assumes high-carbon fuel providers must buy all of their credits (rather than make improvements) and pass 100% of their cost on to consumers. This maximum estimate also doesn’t incorporate the flexibility of the program to bank credits over time, which helps fuel providers to plan for and minimize their costs. California’s LCFS was established in 2011 and has achieved an estimated 5% reduction in carbon intensity.
The Clean Fuel Standard is not a tax on fossil fuel. It is a regulatory program that reduces the carbon intensity of fuel over time, and does so in a flexible, market-driven way that encourages innovation.
Yes – this program will reduce both air and climate pollution in our communities.
Air pollution from transportation increases heart and lung problems, like heart attacks, strokes, asthma, and lung cancer, and even death. Communities next to major roadways and those who spend significant amounts of time near roadways currently have the greatest public health burden from traffic-related air pollution, and have the most to gain from a Clean Fuel Standard. We believe that no one should bear disproportional burdens and exposure from air pollution.
Yes, electricity and biofuels work just as well as conventional gas or diesel vehicles.
For example, renewable diesel can replace conventional diesel up to 100% in light- to heavy-duty diesel vehicles. Biodiesel is frequently blended with conventional diesel usually up to 20%. Many public and private fleets currently utilize alternative fuels in our region, including Waste Management Northwest, Recology Cleanscapes, King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, the City of Tacoma, the City of Everett, the City of Seattle, and the Washington Department of Transportation to name a few.
All vehicles emit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at one or more life stages during manufacturing, operation, and end-of-life and the amounts differ significantly between gas-powered cars and electric cars. During the manufacturing phase electric vehicles usually emit more GHG emissions than gas vehicles however this reverses shortly after the cars hit the road. At about 6 months, gas vehicle GHG emissions surpass electric vehicle GHG emissions, and from then on electric vehicle GHG emissions are significantly lower.
Electric vehicles do not have tailpipes and do not directly produce GHGs. However the source of electricity powering the vehicle matters. Washington State, with a predominantly renewable and clean electricity grid, is one of the best states in the country to reduce GHG emissions by transitioning to electric transportation.
No. Over the lifetime of the vehicle, it is less expensive to drive an electric car. Fuel and maintenance costs of an electric vehicle are significantly less (reduced by at least 50%) than a gas vehicle, especially in Washington State.
The upfront costs of an electric vehicle can be a little higher, depending on the model. Currently the federal government offers a tax credit of up to $7,500 for purchases of eligible electric cars, which can help even out the difference. Washington State also recently reinstated and expanded the sales tax exemption for new and used electric vehicles, up to $2,500.Electricity as a transportation fuel is increasing in popularity as new models with extended battery range come onto the market and new charging stations are installed. Currently, over three percent of all new vehicles sold in Washington State are electric and used electric vehicles are increasingly available, often at lower upfront prices than new electric vehicles.
If you live in a single-family home, you can easily charge your vehicle from any standard outdoor electrical outlet, or an outlet in your garage. You can also install a charger for faster charging, although it is not required.
If you live in an apartment or condominium, or do not have a garage or carport, it can be less convenient to charge. However Washington has nearly 1,000 public charging stations and more are being installed at workplaces, retail shopping areas, and along major transportation corridors. Some apartment building owners and condo associations have also installed one or more electric vehicle chargers.
We are currently conducting an analysis of a regional Clean Fuel Standard’s high-level impacts. We do not anticipate any significant negative impacts on neighboring counties, although they will enjoy air quality benefits from cleaner fuels used in vehicles that pass through.
Air, rail, and maritime fuels are exempt in existing Clean Fuel Standards in Oregon and California. However, with recent updates to their rule, lower-carbon aviation fuels will be able to opt-in to California’s program. We will also consider them for a standard in the Puget Sound region.