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Commissioner Carmen Rubio passes new Renewable Fuel Standard

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Group photo of RFS project team in Council chambers
New standard represents the most aggressive carbon reduction policy in recent years.
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Portland, Ore. — Under leadership from Commissioner Carmen Rubio, today Portland City Council passed a new policy to reduce carbon emissions from Portland’s transportation sector. The policy focuses on diesel fuel, phasing in requirements for cleaner, renewable fuels, with the goal of achieving 99% renewable blend of all diesel fuel sales in Portland by 2030. Under this bold policy, Portland will have the nation’s most aggressive renewable fuel requirements, continuing its legacy of leadership in climate justice.  

Commissioner Rubio, who oversees the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS), praised her fellow commissioners for unanimously supporting the policy and taking accelerated action when it comes to climate change. This policy is a significant step in achieving the city’s goal of a 50% emissions reduction by 2030.  

“Climate change is not stopping or even slowing — and our opportunity to reduce carbon emissions is fast closing. Burning diesel fuel is Portland’s fourth-largest source of carbon emissions,” Commissioner Rubio said. “Together, we can strengthen the local economy while improving air quality, boosting health outcomes, and moving us closer to energy independence.”   

The rulemaking process and the interim rule authority in the code both provide the flexibility and nimbleness needed to adjust the policy based on real market conditions. While renewable fuel producers are confident that supply will be available in Oregon by 2026, the rollout timeline was extended to 2030 in response to concerns from local industry about supply and cost. 

“We are grateful for the continued partnership of industry and community leaders who have worked closely with BPS staff to develop this important policy,” said BPS Director Donnie Oliveira. “Portland is a region unlike any other where industry and government can collaborate to create bold and necessary environmental policy.” 

In 2020, Portland City Council directed BPS staff to update the renewable fuel standard policy, which was originally passed in 2006. After more than two years of public outreach and research, BPS presented proposed amendments to Portland City Council in November. The now-approved amendments reduce dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels by increasing the required percentage of renewable fuels blended with petroleum diesel. This standard only applies to retailers of diesel fuel located within the city of Portland.  

Burning of diesel fuel accounts for 17% of total local carbon emissions. Diesel particulate is one of the main air quality issues plaguing Portland, which disproportionately affects communities of color and individuals and families with low incomes.  

Replacing petroleum diesel at the pump is one of the 43 priority actions listed in the Climate Emergency Workplan that was passed by Council earlier this year. 

About Commissioner Rubio 

Commissioner Carmen Rubio joined the Portland City Council in January 2021. She oversees Portland Parks and Recreation, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the Office for Community Technology, and the Office of Equity and Human Rights; has liaison responsibilities to the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission, League of Oregon Cities, Metro Policy Advisory Committee, and Portland Community Media; and serves as Portland’s Arts and Culture Commissioner. 

About the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability  

The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) develops creative and practical solutions to enhance Portland’s livability, preserve distinctive places and plan for a resilient future. BPS collaborates with community partners to provide comprehensive land use, neighborhood, district, economic, historic, and environmental planning, and urban design; research, policy and technical services to advance green building, energy efficiency and the use of solar and renewable energy, waste prevention, composting and recycling, and a sustainable food system; and policy and actions to address climate change.