Washington State Lawmakers Pass LCFS Bill, Program Could Start by 2023

Source: By Jordan Godwin, OPIS • Posted: Monday, April 19, 2021

After nearly a decade of trying, Washington state could finally get its low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS).

The state Senate latest week  passed the bill (HB 1091) by a 27-20 margin, with two excused, just days before Sunday’s deadline to pass bills from the opposite side of the Legislature.

The bill – which would create an LCFS program in the state beginning no later than the start of 2023 – now faces further negotiation before it heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, a climate advocate who has long made it a priority to establish a program.

“This is a good day for the future of our state,” Inslee said Thursday night on Twitter. “The state Senate has voted in favor of a clean fuel standard. Congratulations to [state Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon] for your dogged persistence on this issue.

“HB 1091 will reduce emissions, clean our air and grow clean jobs, proving we can improve public health and increase economic opportunity by fighting the climate crisis.”

Lawmakers will now work to pass a separate transportation funding package, which is tied to the passage of the LCFS bill and a cap-and-trade bill that the state Senate also passed Thursday night. The legislative session ends April 25. There are also some differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill that will need to be negotiated and reconciled.

The LCFS bill’s text says that it “Requires the passage of a separate additive transportation funding act generating more than $500 million per biennium in revenue before Ecology may assign compliance obligations or allow for actual credit generation in order to coordinate and synchronize the CFP with other transportation-related investments.”

The LCFS program would target greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions from transportation fuels by 10% from 2017 levels by 2028 and 20% by 2035.

Such a program would put Washington just behind Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program (CFP), which targets a 20% reduction by 2030 and a 25% reduction by 2035, and California’s LCFS, which seeks a 20% reduction by 2030. Washington’s LCFS will create an uninterrupted chain of state and provincial programs along the coast of the U.S. and Canada, capped off by British Columbia’s program started in 2013.

It was the fourth straight year the bill was introduced by Fitzgibbon.

The bill was approved by the state House in a 52-46 vote on Feb. 27. Democrats hold a nine-seat majority in the Senate and a 16-seat majority in the House, but some Democrats representing farming communities had voiced opposition to an LCFS over concerns that the program will raise fuel prices and does not provide revenue for transportation projects.

Inslee’s climate initiative introduced in January called for allocating $2.85 million to the state’s Department of Ecology to help implement the program.

“Transportation is the sector that emits the most greenhouse gas emissions of any sector in Washington,” Fitzgibbon said in Senate testimony in March. “This is a technology-neutral policy that sets up a process by which the fuels used to power our transportation network reduce their greenhouse gas intensity over time, which means we’re not picking winners and losers to achieve our goals.”

–Reporting by Jordan Godwin, jgodwin@opisnet.com