Roughly one-third of Oregon's greenhouse gases come from the transportation sector – including cars, trucks, airplanes, ships, pipelines, and any other vehicles used to transport people and goods. In 2009, the state legislature passed House Bill 2186 authorizing the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to adopt rules to reduce average carbon emissions within Oregon’s transportation sector. The oil industry fought against these regulations and sought to re-establish a monopoly over Oregon’s fuel choice. However, successful lobbying by Oregon Climate Solutions helped pass Senate Bill 324 in 2015, allowing the Department of Environmental Quality to implement the Clean Fuels Program.
The Clean Fuels Program aims to lower carbon emissions associated with transportation in Oregon by 10% percent over the next 10 years. The program requires oil companies to blend low-carbon biofuels, or to buy credits that support electric vehicles, natural gas, and other cleaner-fuel alternatives. Because Oregon has abundant clean fuels available from farms, forests, and waste disposal facilities, the program will also create market demand for local fuel alternatives.
As environmentalists work to decarbonize Oregon’s transportation sector, the oil industry continues to be their most powerful opponent - and the one with the deepest pockets and political footholds. Challenging big oil directly has required a growing effort to educate the public about environmental issues and to rebut false claims from industry spokespersons. Environmental organizations are coming together and working with government officials to defeat endless attempts to derail environmental policy and progress.