Oregon is home to vast renewable resources, providing new and exciting opportunities to lead the way in the fight against climate change. We produce 13 percent of the nation’s hydroelectric power and our geothermal potential is rivaled only by Nevada and California. We are also home to some of the West Coast’s premier biofuel facilities, producing cleaner liquid fuels from agricultural feedstocks, supporting nearly 16,000 Oregon jobs.
A lot of this progress has been driven by state and local efforts. But federal policies play an important role. That’s why we need our lawmakers in Congress to stand up for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which ensures that renewable fuel can compete at the gas pump. Oil companies are looking for any opportunity to hold back competition, and biofuels are a top target. They displaced 500 million barrels of oil in 2016, cutting emissions and protecting consumers from price manipulation.
More importantly, thanks to the increasingly sustainable agricultural practices, those biofuels cut emissions by an average of 43 percent, according to federal reports. Conventional ethanol production also leaves behind processed grain that is re-purposed as low-cost animal feed. The next generation of ethanol, produced from material like wood waste and corn cobs is even more promising, with some varieties reducing the total carbon in the atmosphere over their full lifecycle.
Thanks to smart policies like the RFS, the future is bright for Oregon. Lawmakers like Congressman Greg Walden, who chairs the energy committee, should take note, and protect that progress.