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Why I support the Clean Fuels Program

As a mother and grandmother, I feel it is my responsibility to invest in a cleaner future for the generations to come. Oregon currently ranks second in the nation in the clean energy economy, and fifth in the nation for green jobs per capita. The Clean Fuels Program sends a strong message that Oregon is committed to leading the movement in alternative fuel solutions and clean energy.

Our district is currently home to a business contributing to cleaner air and more efficient fuel. Mark Smith is the owner of a company called Summit Foods, located in Cornelius and Forest Grove, which specializes in dried fruits. The process of drying fruit results in excess juice that often goes to waste, because landfills will not take it and it is too expensive to dump down the drain.

Mark and his co-workers began fermenting and distilling the excess juice in pure alcohol, creating a form of clean ethanol. They named the product Thunderbolt Racing Fuel. Summit Foods now sells their product to local race car drivers as an environmentally friendly fuel alternative. Not only does this product give the cars 35 to 50 percent more horsepower, some drivers claim the exhaust smells like berries!

Oregon consumers will now have more choices at the fuel pump; kids will be able to breathe cleaner air; and all Oregonians will benefit from the development of an emerging clean fuels industry under a bill that passed in the Oregon House of Representatives.

Earlier this month, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 324, lifting the sunset on Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program, which was first enacted in 2009. Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program aims to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 10 percent over the next 10 years.

The Clean Fuels Program was signed into law by Gov. Kulongoski. Since 2009, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has been engaged in rulemaking to develop the program, which went into effect Feb. 1, 2015. The Clean Fuels Program is the result of six years of research and an open, public process.

This bill has been the subject of fierce opposition from the oil industry, which will lose some of its dominance over the fuel market because of this bill. They’ve already begun spending money on campaign mailers attacking legislators who support the Clean Fuels Program. In fact, lawyers for the oil industry have already sued the state to kill the program.

I voted for SB 324 for several reasons. The program will attract fuel producers to Oregon who are at the forefront of the clean fuels industry. Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program will reduce Oregon’s dependence on imported oil, keeping more money in the state.

It is important to note that businesses that import less than 500,000 gallons per year will be exempt from this program, thereby protecting and promoting small and local businesses. Additionally, any machines relating to the use of agricultural purposes, watercraft and railroads have been exempt from complying with the requirements of this bill, which I know was a major concern for the farmers in my district. The Clean Fuels Program will also grow Oregon’s clean energy industry, from electric vehicle manufacturing to cellulosic biofuels.

Lastly, in addition to job creation and the fuel cost savings, the Clean Fuels Program will reduce greenhouse gas emission in Oregon by more than 7 million tons. Air pollution affects the health of all Oregonians, and transportation accounts for the greatest share of Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants.

My vote for this program will improve our environment, provide a boost to our local economy and develop more clean choices for transportation fuel.

State Rep. Susan McLain represents Oregon House District 29.

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