Ethanol Laws and Incentives in Washington
The list below contains summaries of all Washington laws and incentives related to ethanol.
Laws and Regulations
Alternative Fuel Use Requirement
All state agencies must, to the extent practicable, use 100% biofuels or electricity to operate all publicly owned vehicles. Agencies must prioritize all-electric vehicles (EVs) when leasing or purchasing new vehicles, and all trips that may feasibly use EVs must employ them. For vehicle classes without EV model options, agencies must prioritize the most cost-efficient, low-emission vehicle option available. Agencies may substitute natural gas or propane for electricity or biofuel if the Washington State Department of Commerce (Department) determines that electricity and biofuel are not reasonably available. Practicability and measures of compliance are defined in rules adopted by the Department. The governor has established a cross-agency Governing Council, which must adopt and implement standards, measures, targets, and tools to support agencies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and prioritizing EV adoption.
In addition, all local government agencies must, to the extent practicable, use 100% biofuels or electricity to operate all publicly owned vehicles. Transit agencies using compressed natural gas and engine retrofits that would void vehicle warranties are exempt from this requirement. To allow the motor vehicle fuel needs of state and local government to be satisfied by Washington-produced biofuels, the Washington Department of Enterprise Services and local governments may contract in advance and execute contracts with public or private producers and suppliers for the purchase of appropriate biofuels. Agencies may substitute natural gas or propane in vehicles if the Department determines that biofuels and electricity are not reasonably available. Practicability and measures of compliance are defined in rules adopted by the Department.
(Reference Executive Order 18-01, 2018, Revised Code of Washington 43.19.647 and 43.19.648, and Washington Administrative Code 194-28 and 194-29)
Biofuel Blend Dispenser Labeling Requirement
Pumps dispensing ethanol or biodiesel blends must have a label that specifies the percentage of ethanol or biodiesel present in the fuel. Ethanol pumps distributing between 1% and 10% must include a label stating that the fuel “contains up to 10% ethanol” and those distributing blends greater than 10% must be labeled with the capital letter E, followed by the numerical value volume of ethanol and the word “ethanol.” Pumps dispensing biodiesel blends of 5% (B5) or less must include a label stating that the fuel “may contain up to five percent biodiesel” and those distributing blends greater than 5% must be labeled with the capital letter B, followed by the numerical value volume of biodiesel and the words “biodiesel” or “biodiesel blend.”
(Reference Washington Administrative Code 16-662-115 and Revised Code of Washington 19.112.020)
Biofuel Quality Program
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Biofuels Quality Program tests and assesses biofuel quality and quantity to resolve any quality issues before the product reaches the consumer. WSDA samples biofuel throughout the state, monitors and tracks the quality of biofuel, and works with producers and manufacturers to help supply the highest biofuel quality fuel available to consumers. The goal of the program is to create equity in the biofuel marketplace for refiners, suppliers, distributors, and retailers, and protect consumers.
(Reference Revised Code of Washington 19.112.005 to 119.112.080)
Biofuels Production and Distribution Contracts
Conservation districts, public development authorities, municipal utilities, and public utility districts may enter crop purchase contracts to produce, sell, and distribute biodiesel produced from Washington feedstocks, cellulosic ethanol, and cellulosic ethanol blended fuels for utility and public use. Additionally, municipal utilities and public utility districts may produce and distribute biodiesel, ethanol, and ethanol blended fuels.
(Reference Revised Code of Washington 35.21.465, 35.92.440, 54.04.190, and 89.08.570)
E85 motor fuel is defined as an alternative fuel that is a blend of ethanol and hydrocarbon, of which the ethanol portion is 75-85% denatured fuel ethanol by volume and complies with the most current ASTM specification D5798.
(Reference Revised Code of Washington 19.112.010)
Low Carbon Fuel Standard
The Washington Department of Ecology will develop rules to establish a Clean Fuels Program (Program) that reduces the overall carbon intensity of transportation fuels used in the state by 20% below 2017 levels by 2038. The Program standards must be based on the carbon intensity of gasoline, gasoline substitutes, diesel, and diesel substitutes. The Program must go into effect no later than January 1, 2023.
(Reference Revised Code of Washington 70A.535.005-70A.535.140)
Renewable Fuel Standard
At least 2% of all diesel fuel sold in Washington must be biodiesel or renewable diesel. This requirement will increase to 5% 180 days after the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) determines that in-state feedstocks and oil-seed crushing capacity can meet a 3% requirement. Renewable diesel is defined as a diesel fuel substitute produced from non-petroleum renewable sources, including vegetable oils and animal fats, meets the federal registration requirements for fuels and fuel additives and ASTM specification D975.
At least 2% of the total gasoline sold in the state must be denatured ethanol. The ethanol requirement increases if the Washington Department of Ecology determines that this increase will not jeopardize continued attainment of federal Clean Air Act standards, and WSDA determines that the state can economically support the production of higher ethanol blends.
All state agencies with jurisdiction over renewable fuel infrastructure, specifically storage, blending, and dispensing equipment, are required to expedite related application and permitting processes. The governor may suspend these requirements by Executive Order if the standard is temporarily technically or economically infeasible, or poses a significant risk to public safety.
(Reference Revised Code of Washington 19.112.010 and 19.112.110-19.112.180)
State Emissions Reductions RequirementsWashington State must limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to achieve the following reductions:
- By 2020, reduce overall GHG emissions in the state to 1990 levels
- By 2030, reduce overall GHG emissions in the state to 45% below 1990 levels; and
- By 2040, reduce overall emissions to 70% below 1990 levels; and,
- By 2050 reduce overall emission to 95% below 1990 levels.
Every other year, the Washington Departments of Ecology and Commerce must report to the governor and legislature on the total GHG emissions in the state for the previous two years. For more information, see the Washington Department of Ecology Climate Change and the Environment website.
(Reference Revised Code of Washington 70A.45.020)
More Laws and Incentives
To find laws and incentives for other alternative fuels and advanced vehicles, search all laws and incentives.