Washington farm groups skeptical about promised clean fuels bonanza

OLYMPIA — Washington House Democrats are again moving to adopt a low-carbon fuel standard, and farm groups continue to be among those pushing back.

The policy requires gasoline and diesel to have more alternative fuels such as ethanol and renewable diesel. Supporters say the mandate fights climate change and creates markets for farmers.

Northwest Agricultural Cooperative Council executive director Ben Buchholz said Tuesday that Midwest corn farmers or Brazilian sugarcane growers will benefit, while Washington farmers will pay more for fuel.

“Our increased fuel costs will be sent to the farmers in those areas,” Buchholz told the House Transportation Committee.

California, Oregon and British Columbia have low-carbon fuel standards, intended to cut carbon emissions attributable to on-road vehicles.

… Bill supporters say embracing a low-carbon fuel standard will lead to more alternative fuels being produced in Washington.

Food Northwest lobbyist Dan Coyne told the committee that the state’s record suggests otherwise.

“While farmers in Iowa, Brazil or Canada may receive financial benefits, Washington farmers are almost entirely bypassed because Washington state cannot get out of its own way to efficiently permit new renewable fuel facilities,” he said.

Most recently, Phillips 66 and Renewable Energy Group canceled plans a year ago to build in northwest Washington what they said would be the largest renewable diesel refinery on the West Coast. …

Citing delays in getting permits, the companies dropped the project five days after the Department of Ecology and Whatcom County announced the refinery would likely have significant adverse environmental consequences. …

Farm groups say [HB 1091] would increase the cost of moving products and equipment on highways. Dozens of log truck drivers came to Olympia last year to testify against the bill.

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