Washington Law Review Online


Kirsten Nelsen

First Page



Transportation fuel is the greatest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Washington State. To curb emissions, Governor Jay Inslee has charged the Washington State Department of Ecology with developing a Clean Fuel Standard (“CFS”) proposal, which may be proposed in future legislative sessions. The goal of a CFS is to reduce the overall carbon intensity of transportation fuel. California enacted a similar program in 2010—the low carbon fuel standard—which was challenged in federal court. One issue that remains open is whether a state low carbon fuel standard would be preempted by the federal Clean Air Act. This Essay considers whether the Clean Air Act would preempt a CFS in Washington. It concludes that a Washington CFS is unlikely to conflict with the purpose of any portion of the Clean Air Act and is therefore unlikely to be preempted.