Will a biofuel mandate create jobs and help farmers? A fact check.

The first hearing for the proposed low-carbon fuel mandate was last week. HB 1091 would require a reduction in reduction in the carbon-intensity of transportation fuels primarily by mixing biofuels with gasoline and diesel. This policy follows in the steps of California and Oregon, where the program has been more expensive than projected.

… [T]wo claims from yesterday’s hearing that deserve an immediate fact check.

Claim: An LCFS would help canola and dairy farmers

In the hearing, bill sponsor Rep. Fitzgibbon argued the LCFS would create opportunities for farmers to profit, saying, “Washington is positioned to be the epicenter of the clean fuels market. We have abundant farms providing the feedstocks that we need to produce these fuels. Farms like dairy farms, canola farms.”

Research from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the State of California demonstrate that neither canola farmers nor dairy farms are likely to benefit from an LCFS.

In 2019, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) commissioned an analysis of their proposed LCFS and specifically addressed the question of feedstocks. That study said, “a low carbon fuel policy is unlikely to induce more consumption of canola oil as a biodiesel feedstock.” …

An LCFS would do virtually nothing for either canola or dairy farmers in Washington state.

Claim: An LCFS would boost the biofuel industry and create jobs in Washington

Supporters of the mandate claim it would create jobs and expand the biofuel industry in Washington state. Similar claims were made when Washington legislators adopted the ethanol mandate. That did not have the promised effect and the LCFS is unlikely to.

… If Oregon required everyone to purchase a 20 oz coffee every day claiming it would make Oregon a leader in coffee, people would recognize the obvious logical fallacy and Starbucks would laugh all the way to the bank. …

Imposing the LCFS mandate on Washington residents will mean we pay more, but the benefits will go elsewhere, as they have in Oregon and California.

… [The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s] 2019 analysis noted that imposing the LCFS rule is unlikely to generate investment in new renewable natural gas manufacturing. The report says, “it is unlikely that the introduction of a low carbon fuel standard in the study region will induce investment into these projects beyond what is currently planned.”

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