SEATTLE — A Washington state House committee on Tuesday approved a measure that would require fuel producers and importers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with gasoline and other transportation fuels.
Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, a Seattle Democrat who sponsored House Bill 2338, said it’s an opportunity to reduce air pollution, spur clean fuel technologies and carbon emissions from the transportation sector, which accounts for the largest share of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
The House environment committee passed the measure 5-4 along party lines. The bill now heads to a fiscal committee.
The bill would override so-called “poison pill” language that Republicans inserted into the $16.1 billion transportation package in 2015.
That provision said money for bike paths and transit would be transferred to other transportation projects if any state agency adopts a low carbon fuel standard before 2023. Gov. Jay Inslee had opposed that language but eventually agreed to it and approved the transportation package.
HB 2338 directs the Department of Ecology to adopt a clean fuels program similar to ones in California and Oregon. It would require fuel producers to reduce the carbon emissions associated with their products 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028. The program would begin in 2020.
The carbon intensity of certain transportation fuel types would be calculated over its entire life cycle, from when it’s produced and transported to when it’s used in a vehicle. Fuels used by aircraft, vessels and railroad locomotives would be exempt.
At a bill hearing in Olympia earlier this month, groups such as Carbon Washington and Climate Solutions and renewable energy producers testified in support of the program. They noted that the program has been working in other states.
Vlad Gutman-Britten with Climate Solutions said the policy will help the state transition to cleaner fuels.
Those opposed worried it would raise gasoline prices and said there isn’t the technological innovation yet or adequate supply of low-carbon fuels to meet those targets.
Frank Riordan, president of Becker Trucking who also spoke on behalf of the Washington Trucking Association, said state-based truckers would be at a disadvantage. He said any mandate should be done at a federal level for an even playing field.
Greg Hanon, a lobbyist with Western States Petroleum Association, urged the House environment committee to evaluate the potential costs to consumers and the uncertainty over whether fuel blends exists to supply the market and to determine how much it would cost the state to implement the program.