Clean Fuels for Washington (2015)

Clean fuels have significant potential in Washington state
A strong clean fuels standard would help cut Washington’s carbon emissions and establish the state as a transportation leader.

Washington has a proud history of entrepreneurship and technological innovation. In the transportation sector, the state enjoys one of the country’s highest rates of electric vehicle (EV) ownership, while researchers and startups are developing low-carbon biofuels and advanced vehicle technologies.

Despite this progress, transportation still accounts for almost half of Washington’s global warming pollution. The state’s ample clean energy resources—including a relatively clean electricity grid and substantial room for producing biofuels that don’t compete with food supplies—mean that oil-reducing solutions are available and affordable, but need strong policies to successfully scale up.

A chart displaying the carbon intensities of different fuels in Washington.

Click to enlarge. Carbon pollution from electricity is based on the generation mix of 2015 state utilities. Sources: CARB 2014, LCA 2014

Electric vehicles can help. An average electric car charged in Washington produces the carbon emissions equivalent to a gas-powered car achieving up to 170 miles per gallon (mpg). In Seattle, where the majority of electricity comes from hydroelectric dams, the same EV produces the emissions equivalent of a gas-powered car getting over 500 mpg.

Biofuels are another clean fuels resource and, when produced under certain circumstances, can achieve up to a 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline. Washington is already producing such low-carbon biofuels, but has the potential to produce significantly more: used cooking oil, animal fat, canola, and cellulosic sources such as hybrid poplar trees could collectively generate hundreds of millions of gallons of clean fuels every year.

Transitioning from oil to cleaner fuels like electricity and low-carbon biofuels will take time and long-term policy support. A clean fuel standard would allow all fuel types—including biofuels and electricity, but also natural gas, propane, and petroleum-based fuels—to compete based on their cost and carbon benefits. Deployed on a realistic but ambitious-enough timeline, such a policy would cut Washington’s emissions and cement the state as a clean transportation leader. Learn more by downloading the fact sheet, or read more about clean fuels and our plan to Half the Oil here.

We Need Your Support
to Make Change Happen

We can protect consumers, the climate, and our environment from the growing costs and risks of our oil use —but not without you. Your generous support helps develop science-based solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.