Washington is rightfully proud to be “the Evergreen State,” but that reputation and identity are under threat from an all-too-familiar foe: Big Oil. From extraction to combustion, the oil industry is taxing our state every step of the way:
Shell Oil is planning to use Seattle as a launching pad for their most audacious fossil fuel adventure yet (as the city says #ShellNo!). Trains cars of volatile Bakken crude are rolling through our communities with little to no protections or oversight. Those trains are headed to refineries that disregard worker safety and degrade Puget Sound. The fuels produced from the refineries have a stranglehold on our economy and public health. Oil companies control roughly 98% of our transportation fuels which means they dictate our transportation choices.
The petroleum monopoly leaves our economy vulnerable to wild price spikes and price gouging, and our families suffering from dirty air. Washington has one of the highest asthma rates in the country, a crisis felt most acutely by children in low-income communities where tailpipe pollution is most intense. Nearly half of our carbon pollution is caused by petroleum transportation fuels, our state’s single largest contributor to dangerous climate change. Washington state’s dependence on gasoline and diesel is hurting our children’s lungs and crippling their future.
The solution to these pressing and connected problems is to use less oil. We can power our cars and trucks with clean, affordable fuels, produced in Washington, without fouling the air or harming our health. But to get the option to use these fuels, we need a fair market that balances the playing field back from oil monopoly’s favor. What Washington needs is a Clean Fuel Standard (CFS).
A CFS gradually reduces the carbon pollution from our transportation system by recognizing the benefits clean fuels have to our health and environment. With a fair market for fuel choices, the cleanest and most affordable fuels rise to the top, which is good for consumers and the economy. A CFS helps free us from oil dependency and grow healthy and sustainable communities.
Transitioning from oil to clean fuels is how we build healthy communities and a thriving economy across our state. Last year, a study conducted by Washington’s Office of Financial Management (with an advisory workgroup that included the oil industry themselves!) found that with a CFS, Washington would use 25% less gasoline and 15% less diesel by 2026. That’s less money going from your pocket to pay for oil company profits and more money for local businesses.
In Washington we have clean electricity, renewable natural gas and sustainable biofuels coming from every corner of the state. We should be investing in our communities to bring these clean options to a station near you.
California, Oregon and British Columbia have each implemented clean fuels policies of their own, and are already seeing the benefits of fewer trips to the pump. Over 7% of California’s transportation system is powered by clean fuels, and there are plenty more clean fuels to power the whole West Coast. But Washington has to step up and be a leader in breaking free of oil. The Department of Ecology has released a draft proposal for what a CFS would look like for Washington, which is an important first step. Now we need to put that good design into practice.
Together with the Clean Fuels Jobs Coalition, we are calling on Governor Inslee formally move forward with a Washington Clean Fuel Standard. To join us in this fight for clean fuels please sign up here and continue to check our Clean Fuels website. We will keep you up to date with the best ways to take back control of our economy, environment and future.