Oregon Policy

Oregon has clearly developed policy objectives for compressed natural gas (CNG) use.  We have a long history of policies favoring alternative fuels in the transportation sector. In 1979, the legislature established the Alternative Energy Development Commission consisting of six separate task forces. The commission completed its report in 1980 and one area of study included gasohol for the transportation sector. In 1989, the Oregon legislature addressed global warming by passing legislation that calls for reduction of GHG emissions to 10 percent below 1988 levels by 2005 through energy efficiency, conservation, new renewable resources, and use of alternative fuels.

In 1991, Oregon established incentives for alternative fuel vehicles and fueling infrastructure within the Business Energy Tax Credit program. The federal government passed the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPACT) establishing the Clean Cities program and alternative fuel fleet requirements for federal, state and utility fleets. Additionally, the federal government added tax credits for alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure. By 2005, alternative fuels represented 1.5 percent of U.S. roadway transportation fuels primarily due to ethanol replacing methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) as the oxygenate in gasoline.  In 2005, petroleum dominated at more than 98.5 percent share of highway transportation fuel.

The transportation strategies, plans, and policies outlined here, define Oregon’s objectives to lower the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of transportation fuels in the region.

Current Policy Efforts

Alternative Fuel Vehicle Infrastructure Working Group
In 2008, as fuel prices rose beyond $4 per gallon and evidence of climate change became more definite, Governor Kulongoski established the Governor’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle Infrastructure Working Group by Executive Order 08-24.  In January 2010, the working group released its report with a heavy focus on Electric Vehicles (EVs), and a chapter devoted to CNG noting that there was no single technology or alternative fuel that would replace petroleum. Within the report, a number of the recommendations identified the need to allocate financial resources in areas such as education, research, and tax credits to aid expansion of alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure.

Oregon Clean Fuels Program
The Oregon Clean Fuels program was established through House Bill 2186 in 2009, which required the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to create a program that would reduce GHG emissions from transportation fuels. The goal of the program is to reduce the average carbon intensity of conventional gasoline and diesel fuel by 10% over a ten year period. The Clean Fuels program was developed with assistance from a broad base of industry and environmental interests, local, regional and state agencies and experts in the fields of transportation and economic analysis. In the 2013 legislative session, Senate Bill 488, which repealed the sunset date of the Clean Fuels program of Dec. 31, 2015, was voted down by the legislature.

Oregon Statewide Transportation Strategy
In 2010, the Statewide Transportation Strategy (STS) was initiated by Senate Bill 1059, which called for a plan to reduce Oregon transportation sector GHG emissions by 75% (below 1990 levels) by 2050. The Statewide Transportation Strategy: A 2050 Vision for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Reduction describes how this goal is plausible if a variety of methods are employed. The STS, itself, is neither directive nor regulatory, but rather points to promising approaches for further consideration by policymakers at the national, state, regional, and local levels. Oregon takes three general approaches in this transportation emissions reduction strategy:

  • Cleaner vehicle technology
  • Reducing the amount of miles traveled
  • Decreasing fuel carbon intensity (i.e. GHG emissions)

Vehicle, engine and fuel technology were identified as the major contributors to reaching the strategies’ goals.

The Statewide Transportation Strategy is a part of a larger State Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Strategy, which also includes the development of a toolkit to assist local governments and metropolitan planning organizations in reducing GHGs from motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less.

The Governor’s 10-Year Energy Action Plan
In 2012, Governor Kitzhaber released his 10-Year Energy Action Plan. The Governor’s plan breaks energy into three major categories, with transportation being one class. In the plan the Governor acknowledges that transportation is the single largest contributor to Oregon’s carbon dioxide emissions and a significant source of air toxics. In order to accelerate the market transition to a more efficient, cleaner transportation system the plan proposes a 20% conversion of large fleets to alternative fuel vehicles over the next ten years. The plan’s action item for fleet conversion stated the following:

“Based on successful programs elsewhere, Oregon should develop a comprehensive alternative fuel program that allows utility-ownership of refueling infrastructure and provides incentives, where appropriate, for vehicle conversions. Replacement vehicles include, but are not limited to, biodiesel, electric, CNG, propane, and LNG vehicles for all vehicle types including heavy trucks and school buses. In promoting such conversions, the state will consider how smart grid technologies and practices could increase the value of the converted fleets to the overall energy infrastructure and grid operations. This process will inform the kind of regulatory framework and incentive structure that would be required to further accelerate the market for alternative fuel vehicles.”

Renewable Fuels Standard
The Oregon Renewable Fuel Standard requires gasoline to be blended with 10% ethanol except for a few special cases and diesel to be blended with 5% biodiesel. This program has lowered the petroleum proportion of on-highway transportation fuel to 91.5% in 2011 compared to the 98.5% in 2005. Compared with other states for all fuel types, Oregon ranks third with 125 alternative fuel stations per million vehicles registered for roadway use. Boosting Oregon’s average are 850 public accessible electric charging stations at 311 locations recognized by AFDC as of May 2013.

Regional Climate Change Initiative
The Governors of Oregon, Washington, and California approved a series of recommendations for actions to combat climate change, as detailed in the West Coast Governors’ Global Warming Initiative. The initiative includes adopting standards to reduce GHG emissions from vehicles by expanding markets for efficiency, renewable energy and alternative fuels, including creating a working group on developing hydrogen fuel.

Laws and Regulations

Commercial Vehicle Idle Reduction Requirement
A driver of a commercial vehicle may not idle the engine for more than five minutes in any 60 minute period, unless the vehicle is using an auxiliary power unit, generator set, cargo temperature control unit, or other idle reduction technology that maintains heat or air conditioning or provides electrical power. Exceptions apply in certain situations and for certain vehicles. (Reference Oregon Revised Statutes 825.605 through 825.610)

Biodiesel Quality Testing Procedures
Each biodiesel or other renewable diesel producer, distributor, or importer must retain the certificate of analysis for each batch or production lot of B100 sold or delivered in the state for at least one year. The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) or authorized agents may examine these records as necessary. The ODA or authorized agents may also perform on-site testing or obtain samples of biodiesel or other renewable diesel from any producer, bulk facility, or retail location that sells, distributes, transports, hauls, delivers, or stores biodiesel or other renewable diesel. The related testing cost is the responsibility of the business providing the sample. (Reference Oregon Revised Statutes 646.923)

Low Emission Vehicle Standards
Under the Oregon LEV Program, all new passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty vehicles sold, leased, licensed, or delivered for sale in the state must meet California vehicle emissions standards stated in Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations, Section 1962. Exemptions may apply. Each motor vehicle manufacturer must comply with the fleet average emission requirements as well as the warranty, recall, and other applicable requirements. (Reference Oregon Revised Statutes 468A.360 and Oregon Administrative Rules 340-257)

AFV Acquisition, Fuel Use, and Emissions Reductions Requirements

All state agencies and transit districts must purchase AFVs and use alternative fuels to operate those vehicles to the maximum extent possible, except when it is not economically or logistically possible to purchase or fuel an AFV. Each state agency must develop and report a greenhouse gas reduction baseline and determine annual reduction targets. Reports to the Oregon Department of Administrative Services must include the volume of ethanol and biodiesel used by state agency fleets, as well as any cost savings attributable to driving more fuel-efficient vehicles and using alternative fuels. (Reference Oregon Revised Statutes 283.327 and 267.030, and Executive Order 06-02, 2006)

Electricity Provider and PEV Charging Rate Regulators
Regulated electric utility tariffs must explicitly permit customers to resell electricity for use as a motor fuel, as long as the entity is not considered a public utility as defined in Oregon Revised Statutes 757.005 and does not provide any utility service. Additionally, each regulated electric utility must provide customers with a choice of flat rate or time of use electricity rates specific to PEV owners. (Reference Public Utility Commission of Oregon, Order No. 12-013, 2012)

Provision for Establishment of Alternative Fuel School Bus Grant and Loan Program

The Oregon Department of Energy must establish the Clean Energy Deployment Program to provide grants and loans for energy efficiency or clean energy projects in Oregon. Under this program, school districts may be eligible for grants and loans to retrofit school bus fleets to operate on compressed natural gas, propane, or other alternative fuels, or to operate with highly efficient engine technologies, such as hybrid electric engines. Funds may also be used to replace school buses with buses that operate on these fuels or technologies. (Reference Oregon Revised Statutes 470.800 through 470.815)

Low-speed and Medium-speed EV access to roadways
A low-speed vehicle is defined as a four-wheeled motor vehicle capable of reaching speeds of up to 20 miles per hour (mph) but not more than 25 mph. A low-speed vehicle may not operate on a highway with a posted speed limit of more than 35 mph. A medium-speed EV is defined as a four-wheeled electric motor vehicle that is equipped with a roll cage or a crushproof body design and is capable of reaching speeds of up to 35 mph. A medium-speed EV may not operate on a highway that has a posted speed limit of more than 45 mph. A city or county may adopt ordinances that allow the operation of low-speed vehicles or medium-speed EVs on city streets or county roads that have posted speed limits greater than 35 mph and 45 mph, respectively. The Oregon Department of Transportation must adopt minimum safety standards for low-speed vehicles and medium-speed EVs and may deny a vehicle registration if the vehicle does not meet the safety standards. (Reference Oregon Revised Statutes 801.331, 801.341, and 811.512-811.513)

Vehicle registration requirement
Motor vehicle registration applicants must provide proof of compliance with Oregon's low emission motor vehicle standards. This requirement applies to new vehicles with no more than 7,500 miles on the odometer when the vehicle is initially registered. The Oregon Department of Transportation may adopt rules that exempt certain new motor vehicles from the requirement. (Reference Oregon Revised Statutes 803.350)

Alternative Fuel Vehicle Infrastructure Working Group. (2010). Report of the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Infrastructure Working Group. Retrieved from http://www.psrc.org/assets/3751/W_OregonReport_2010.pdf

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