Angling for LCFS policy continues

Although a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) bill reintroduced from last session and passed by the state House appears to be going nowhere in the Senate, the general idea could still move forward as proponents continue to push the policy on a variety of fronts.

After clearing the House on Jan. 29 in a 52-44 vote, HB 1110 was referred to the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee. Although it has yet to receive a public hearing, one could be scheduled in the coming weeks.

Even if that bill fails to advance, an LCFS could become part of negotiations over the Forward Washington transportation package proposed by Transportation Committee Chair Steve Hobbs (D-44). …

When asked about this at a Feb. 13 media press conference, Governor Jay Inslee said “no one should doubt my commitment to getting additional transportation infrastructure,” but didn’t say whether he would support a new transportation package if an LCFS were passed this year.

A third possible route for an LCFS is through SB 6628 sponsored by Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-36) at the request of Inslee’s office. The bill seeks to give the state Department of Ecology statutory authority to regulate indirect carbon emitters through its Clean Air Rule after a recent State Supreme Court decision ruled against the agency. …

Stakeholders say the bill language is so broad it could be interpreted as granting Ecology the authority to impose an LCFS.

“The bill represents a sweeping grant of authority from the legislature to the Department of Ecology without legislative direction parameters or sideboards,” Greg Hanon with Western States Petroleum Association told the committee at a Jan. 29 public hearing. …

Either way, the expected gas price increase from an LCFS may ultimately deter state lawmakers looking to generate new funding via a gas tax hike. HB 1110 authorizes the state Department of Ecology to set up an LCFS program that gradually lowers the amount of carbon intensity in fuels. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is also contemplating a regional version that – according to its own analysis – may raise gas prices by $.57 per gallon – more than seven times the gas tax increase proposed in Forward Washington.

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