The Low Carbon Fuel Standard: An Expensive, Unproven and Uncertain Experiment for Washington

With the legislative session underway in Washington State, it is important that policymakers understand our economy and environmental health depend on ensuring there is good science and real-world examples backing proposed legislation that significantly impacts the lives of Washington residents and businesses.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) proposal currently being considered by the Washington state legislature this regular session.  The LCFS is an unnecessary standard that attempts to reduce carbon intensity in the production of fuels but has no proven results in doing so.

Originally touted as a driver for new jobs, innovation and industry, the California experience has shown that almost seventy-five percent (75%) of low carbon fuel stocks are produced out of state and country.

Additionally, according to the California Energy Commission, the LCFS currently adds another 6.8 cents to the cost per gallon of California diesel fuel – and up to 10.1 cents per gallon to the cost of California gasoline.

While lawmakers should consider California as a case study when deliberating LCFS implementation in Washington, they should also take into account realities that are specific to our state like:

  • Driving habits: Washington residents love to drive. Especially in Seattle. And they’re only going to continue driving to go about their daily lives. Higher fuel costs could not only mean more pressure on families filling their minivans, it could also mean increased costs for transporting goods. This would make everything we buy more expensive.
  • Research: The State of Washington already studied a LCFS program as a way to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets. It was not selected as one of the five recommend proposed actions to meet statutory limits. This conclusion was reached by the Climate Legislative Executive Work Group (CLEW), which held hearings with more than 1,000 stakeholders, received more than 8,500 written comments, and reviewed numerous technical and economic studies.
  • Economic contribution: Washington’s five refineries support more than 26,000 jobs, create $1.7 billion in economic activity, and pay more than $261 million in taxes each year. The costs of a state LCFS would put these contributions in jeopardy.

The fact is that cleaner air and responsible stewardship of our environment are common goals that all Washingtonians should strive for. As state regulators and politicians aim to implement new regulations, it’s imperative they support common sense policies that don’t increase burdens on families and businesses for the sake of environmental quality.