The Clean Fuels Program: David vs. Goliath

Sometimes David really does triumph over Goliath.

Today, the Oregon Clean Fuels Program cleared its final legislative hurdle, clearing the way for meaningful carbon pollution reductions from transportation fuels. The Clean Fuels Program will guarantee 7 million metric tons of carbon pollution stay out of our air, equivalent to 37,500 rail cars of coal. Fully implementing this program is a critical step towards meeting Oregon’s climate goals.

The Oregon Environmental Council, many partner organizations, individual citizens, and statewide legislative champions triumphed over a $2 million campaign paid for by the oil industry. Here’s what we’ve been up against:

  • The Western States Petroleum Association spent $357,340 on lobbying in Oregon – in 2014 alone.
  • They established a front group, “Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policy” that paid Hubbell Communications $152,927 last year.
  • WSPA paid Miller Nash lobbying fees up to $190,413 last year alone.

Those are daunting numbers. But the Clean Fuels Program is well-designed public policy that speaks for itself. It not only takes care of our environment, but also improves our air quality and creates innovative business opportunities in Oregon and our region. Because of these merits, our campaign in support of the Clean Fuels Program marshaled support from nearly 150 businesses, labor groups, consumer advocates, health professionals, and eastern Oregon supporters.

Now that Clean Fuel companies have the certainty we promised them, they’re poised to grow in Oregon– adding thousands of jobs and up to $2.6 billion in wages over 10 years. There are businesses in Oregon already making clean fuels, and with the certainty this bill gives them, they will invest, expand and create more jobs. Oregon will be a robust market for clean fuels. New local companies will start up; others will look to expand here.

Individuals showed up for standing-room only, packed public hearings. When hearings ran long, they were willing to return to Salem yet again for the chance to share their words of support. They submitted written testimony, wrote letters to the editor, participated in editorial board visits, talked to neighbors, and reached out to legislators. They spoke with courage and conviction, thwarting big oil’s attempts to create confusion around the bill.

The passage of SB 324 is a community win for the climate and for Oregon’s environmental movement.

We’ve proven that, together, we can beat the odds.

We’ll keep fighting for climate and environmental progress. We’ll defend our wins. And we’ll safeguard our Oregon.

But today is a day to celebrate. David triumphed over Goliath.

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12 Replies to "The Clean Fuels Program: David vs. Goliath"

  • Amy Patton
    March 5, 2015 (1:20 am)

    Congratulations OEC for your hard work in passing this bill for the benefit of future generations!

  • Harrison Pettit
    March 5, 2015 (8:03 pm)

    Great job you guys — Jana you were awesome from the beginning to end; Angela you rocked it and made it happen.

  • Karin
    July 5, 2015 (4:59 pm)

    You strong armed the democrats to make very bad policy/politics. The OEC only cares about power and politics. The OEC could care less about sound policy that could achieved better environmental results along with a desperately needed bi partisan transportation package. Instead you cut off your nose to spite your face. Now we have no transportation bill and a hidden gas tax that no Oregonian will ever benefit from in any measurable way. Thanks bunches. OEC. Politics over policy.. OEC is the Goliath VS. David (the people of Oregon). How do you all sleep at night?

    • Simon Tam
      July 5, 2015 (5:31 pm)

      Hi Karin,

      Oregonians don’t have to choose between good roads and clean air – and that’s what happened when some individuals decided to make the passage of a transportation package dependent on the cancellation of the Clean Fuels program. The real people who tried to strong-arm Democrats were oil lobbyists wanting to repeal a law that was already passed and signed into law. Forcing an ultimatum to get a law passed isn’t bi-partisanship, those are just dirty tactics. And if you don’t believe that the oil lobby was behind it, look at this side-by-sde comparison of policy they drafted with the language used (in addition to their admission):

      Unfortunately, the transportation package didn’t pass this session but that was mainly because ODOT admitted that the carbon offsets were extremely over-estimated. Seeing that the cancellation of Clean Fuels in exchange for a transportation package would actually be detrimental to environmental, as well as economic policy, legislators agreed to pull the transportation package – again, a bi-partisan agreement. However, both parties committed to making it a priority to consider the package next round.

      The program isn’t a “hidden gas tax.” That’s just language perpetuated by oil lobbyists. In fact, other states who have passed similar programs have seen robust growth in their economies as well as positive environmental impacts. It’s a win-win, and it’s something that Oregonians deserve as well.

    • Simon Tam
      July 5, 2015 (5:37 pm)

      And in case you missed the Statesman Journal article, it states:

      “Republicans had demanded the repeal in exchange for approving the transportation package…The Western States Petroleum Association [oil lobbyists] wrote the framework for the clean fuels replacement proposal.”

      and “A huge blow to the proposal came during the hearing when Matt Garrett, director of the Oregon Department of Transportation, said his staff had overestimated the greenhouse gas reduction potential of the transportation improvements.”

      It’s understandable to be upset that a transportation package not passing, but Oregonians shouldn’t have to lose good policy that’s used as a bargaining chip to make it happen. Legislators should do what is right simply because it’s right for Oregon. And having oil companies draft our environmental laws, especially when they don’t achieve the environmental results desired or promised, isn’t the way to do it. Blaming environmental groups who hold legislators accountable isn’t the way to go about it either.


    • admin
      July 6, 2015 (5:55 pm)

      We also understand the importance of a transportation package; in fact, transportation was one of OEC’s top priorities this session. We served on two transportation forums leading to develop a package of recommendations that had broad support. OEC staff presented numerous times, including on public radio, about the need for safe roads and increased transit funding–Oregon only provides 3% of transit operations funding, compared to 24% nation-wide. We can certainly do better than that.

      But none of this should come at the expense of clean air programs. Had a stand-alone transportation package been offered, we would have enthusiastically supported it. We never believed the two should have been coupled. And we’ll continue to work to get a transportation package passed.

  • Karin
    July 7, 2015 (3:38 pm)

    Please provide me with a list of Oregon companies who will benefit from this low carbon fuel “fee”(not tax)/subsidy. Also, please provide the list of companies outside of Oregon who will benefit from this subsidy paid for by Oregonians.

    • admin
      August 26, 2015 (7:57 pm)

      Hi Karin, you can track the Clean Fuels Program here: The program will be implemented in January 2016 and we expect a growing number of Oregon and regional businesses will participate in providing consumers with more fuel choices. And you’re right, the program is neither a tax nor a subsidy–the state doesn’t collect any money (taxes) nor does it provide subsidies through this program. Rather, the program creates a performance-based standard to get the fuels market to start investing in cleaner options.

  • Karin
    July 21, 2015 (3:33 pm)

    I’m still waiting for that list of companies who will benefit from this “fee.”

    • Karin
      August 23, 2015 (9:37 pm)

      Are you unable or unwilling to answer my question?

  • Governor Kate Brown Acknowledges OEC | Oregon Environmental Council
    January 4, 2019 (6:40 pm)

    […] Brown also spoke about The Clean Fuels Standard, noting that “over the past year, we took major steps forward to make Oregon cleaner and […]

  • Karin
    January 31, 2019 (5:27 pm)

    Your link above is not working, curiously. Please provide me with a the above requested information.