Bellingham, Washington [RenewableEnergyAccess.com]
Bipartisan cooperation for a major new energy policy can be hard to come by, but not when both parties agree on calling for new energy independence strategies. In legislative session, Senate Bill 6508 calling for a minimum renewable energy standard passed the Washington State Senate and is off to the Governor for an expected signature into law.
"This is truly a bill the entire state can be proud of. We're talking about new jobs, cleaner air, and more independence from oil. That's a win-win for all citizens of Washington."
-- 13th District Rep. Janea Holmquist, R-Moses Lake
Senate Bill 6508 mandates fuel dealers to sell 2 percent biodiesel out of their total diesel sales and 2 percent ethanol out of total gasoline sales. This new state biofuels standard makes Washington a leader among other states that are moving in the direction of supporting renewable energy. It also complements a similar Federal law called the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that mandates the US reach 7.5 billion gallons of biofuel use by 2012.
These figures also act as a baseline as the law is designed to increase biofuel use as the state's capacity to grow and produce biofuels increases. The standards start at 2%, and ramp up to 5% for biodiesel and 10% for ethanol. State vehicles will use higher percentages of biodiesel. The state also has a huge potential to produce advanced biofuels, like ethanol from wheat straw, that can provide major reductions in fossil fuel use and global warming pollution in the future.
In addition to establishing market access for ethanol and biodiesel, and a variety of incentives for in-state fuel crops and production facilities, the RFS will open a new market for biofuels in Washington State, attract jobs, provide farm income and relieve concerns about oil prices and global warming, say supporters of the bill.
"This is truly a bill the entire state can be proud of. We're talking about new jobs, cleaner air, and more independence from oil," said 13th District Rep. Janea Holmquist, R-Moses Lake. "That's a win-win for all citizens of Washington." Rep. Holmquist is also a member of the House Economic Development, Agriculture and Trade Committee and sponsored a similar House Bill 2738. She has been recognized as a leading proponent of biofuels legislation in the state. Earlier calls from Governor Christine Gregoire helped to drive the legislative effort.
Scheduled to take effect in 2008, after an advisory group helps the Department of Agriculture develop rules for implementation, the RFS, which industry experts anticipate will attract substantial investment in growing biofuel feedstocks and producing the fuel, is said to be one of the first in the nation.
The Washington State Apollo Alliance of Washington made the renewable fuel standard a priority this year, and the Washington State Labor Council, Washington's environmental community, Washington Agriculture, Washington Farm Bureau all endorsed the measure.