Clean fuels work, and here’s why.

The Clean Fuels Standard launched January 2016. The Standard offers a brighter economic and environmental future for Oregon by offering drivers more options when they fuel up. By gradually transitioning to cleaner fuels like electricity, sustainable biofuels, biogas and propane, Oregon will reduce transportation costs, support our local economy, create good-paying jobs, cut climate pollution and lessen our dependence on Big Oil.

The Clean Fuels Standard is a flexible, market-based, performance driven standard. Companies are already enrolling to produce or sell more clean fuels in Oregon, from Fred Meyer’s purchase of 500,000 gallons of renewable compressed natural gas for its local fleet, to Tesla Motor’s signing on to generate Clean Fuels credits from 697,000 kilowatt-hours worth of electric vehicle charging at Tesla-owned charging stations. And that’s just the beginning: new companies are signing up every day. Oregon’s Clean Fuels Standard is projected to:

  • Save Oregonians as much as $1.6 billion in fuel costs
  • Create between 800 and 29,000 jobs
  • Grow personal income by as much as $2.6 billion
  • Generate as much as $2.1 billion in Gross State Product


The Clean Fuels Standard requires oil companies to reduce carbon pollution from their gasoline and diesel fuel by 10% over ten years. The Clean Fuels Standard is technology-neutral: it supports different transportation solutions in different sectors and gives the oil industry options to either blend low-carbon biofuels or purchase credits from clean fuel providers for fuels like electricity that can’t be blended. The Clean Fuels Standard does not regulate the public, and it does not regulate gas stations and other Oregon small businesses.

There are a lot of homegrown clean fuels options, including electricity, biogas and natural gas, sustainable biofuels, and propane. Unlike imported gasoline and diesel, many of these clean fuels alternatives are being produced by Oregon businesses—and in most cases, these options are cheaper than gas and diesel.

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6 Replies to "Clean fuels work, and here's why."

  • Richard C. Freeman
    February 11, 2015 (10:24 pm)

    I have a Plug-in Prius, and I want Oregon to expand, not end, the Clean Fuels Program.

  • John O
    May 27, 2015 (6:02 pm)

    While I applaud your sentiments, remember that “electric” cars actually run on coal, and at less than 30% efficiency, once you take line losses into account; and while methane can fuel a car more cleanly than gasoline, big oil is still fracking the planet and destroying the groundwater to bring it to us, and it is still fossil carbon that is poison to the atmosphere. Clean biofuels–and from a practical standpoint, that means algal biodiesel for cars and methane from sewage etc. for heating and cooking–are the only way out of this mess. Wasting time on much of anything else is just making noise.

  • John O
    May 27, 2015 (7:02 pm)

    While I applaud your sentiments, remember that “electric” cars actually run on coal, and at less than 30% efficiency, once you take line losses into account; and while methane (or propane) can fuel a car more cleanly than gasoline, big oil is still fracking the planet and destroying groundwater people will need forever to bring it to us, and it is still fossil carbon that is poison to the atmosphere. Clean biofuels–and from a practical standpoint, that means algal biodiesel for cars and methane from sewage etc. for heating and cooking–are the only way out of this mess. Wasting time on much of anything else is distraction we cannot afford.

    Ethanol and methanol are lousy low-energy motor fuels, and hygroscopic so they rust out their transport containers, and it takes more energy to produce ethanol than it contains. Drop the gasoline engine in favor of more efficient (45% vs. 30%) turbodiesel, and we no longer need either, or biobutanol. Energy crops like switchgrass (and my understanding is that the cellulose-to-sugars pre-digestion needed isn’t fully developed yet, anyway) are worse than nothing if they displace human food production. Hydrogen fuel cells are a deliberate big-oil distraction; if they are ever cost effective, it will be decades in the future, and we cannot afford to waste the time. We could do a lot with forest and crop wastes, and good people are working on that. But for now we know how to save fuel–insulate and upgrade our buildings and force the U.S. automakers to European efficiency standards; we know how to make methane from wastes, that is mature technology; and we know how to pyrolize solid remnants into liquid fuels–Germany ran its WWII war machine on gasoline and diesel made from coal via the Fischer Tropsch process. The sticking point is finding the right algae and growing them efficiently, and the $18 billion/year in subsidies big oil steals from us would lubricate that research nicely.

    Integrated biofuels production–the waste streams from methane and algae production feed each other–can make fuel from wastes while cleaning up sewage and farming wastes and municipal food waste and yard/garden debris, cleaning up groundwater so it doesn’t poison the oceans, cleaning up carbon dioxide before it poisons the atmosphere, and the remnant is either food, or livestock feed, or soil amendments, or a biochar that can be buried to sequester carbon. In design, when the solution to one problem creates new problems, you are on the wrong track; when a solution to one problem solves several other problems, you have “solved for pattern” and that is likely the solution you should pursue. Integrating methane and algal biodiesel production solves for pattern in a way that no other proposed biofuels do, and that is where we should be spending our limited research time and money.

    • Jana Gastellum
      May 27, 2015 (11:35 pm)

      Hi John O,

      You’re absolutely right about utilizing waste streams and the benefits of closed-loop systems as being the biggest bang for the carbon buck. That’s exactly what the Clean Fuels Program incentivizes the most. Waste stream fuels, which include biogas (from landfills, dairy digesters, and waste water treatment plants), waste grease biodiesel, and cellulosic fuels made from ag residues, generally have the lowest carbon footprint. Cellulosic fuels are actually being produced now, including in Kansas, using ag residues that aren’t competing with food production. For more information on the state of advanced biofuels, check out this report by Environmental Entrepreneurs: Test runs on using algae oil have been done in Oregon and we’re excited to see the next phase of that development as well.

      But EVs also have a big carbon benefit. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists: “Given Oregon’s relatively clean electricity grid, the environmental performance of EVs in the Beaver State is impressive. An average EV charged in Oregon produces the carbon emissions equivalent of a gasoline-powered vehicle that achieves 75 miles per gallon.” (Source: And, of course, Oregon’s renewable energy requirements will make our grid even cleaner over time. In addition, residential solar systems are becoming increasingly available for EV drivers. EV4Oregon is also starting to deploy solar-powered charging stations in the Tillamook area.

      We also need to keep supporting increased fuel economy for all fuel/vehicle types, support transit operations, increase and enhance bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and design our communities to be less car-dependent.

  • Oregon Environmental Council | Climate Change is Real – So Is the Movement for Progress
    March 22, 2018 (11:01 pm)

    […] And I have worked with the climate community to champion each other’s priorities – from the Clean Fuels Program, to Coal to Clean, to a transportation package making mass transmit more accessible and […]

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