Massachusetts Passes Advanced Biofuels Bill
The Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed legislation that would make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to exempt cellulosic ethanol from state gasoline taxes. The bill also requires diesel fuel and oil heat distributors to start adding biodiesel or renewable diesel to their fuel blends in 2010.
“The House has taken another meaningful step toward comprehensive energy reform; one that will preserve our environment, ultimately drive down consumer energy costs and bolster the growing clean energy sector in Massachusetts,” said House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi.
Last November, DiMasi, Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray and Congressman Delahunt unveiled a legislative package to accelerate the emerging advanced biofuels industry in Massachusetts.
Significant environmental and consumer protection safeguards were built into the legislation. For example, all qualifying fuels must achieve at least a 50 percent reduction of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions over petroleum. Moreover, all fuels will be required to undergo a full lifecycle analysis, which includes “significant indirect emissions” and land use changes. Also, the bill allows state regulators to delay or scale back the blending requirement if there are issues associated with supply or cost.
“New England is addicted to oil. In Massachusetts alone, we spend more than $10 billion a year on petroleum, and it is very clear where most of those dollars are going,” said Congressman Delahunt, noting that Saudi Arabia alone made $160 billion in 2005 exporting oil. “I applaud the Massachusetts legislature for taking steps that will both reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help boost the emerging clean energy industry in the Commonwealth.”
Massachusetts is home to a cluster of cellulosic ethanol companies, some of which are world leaders in the development of advanced biofuels.
Specifically, the legislation exempts cellulosic ethanol from the state’s gasoline excise tax based on the percentage of renewable fuel used. For example, the gasoline tax for a blend of E10 (10 percent cellulosic ethanol/90 percent petroleum) would be reduced by about 2.3 cents. The bill also requires that by July 2010, all diesel transportation fuels and distillate heating oil blends contain 2 percent biodiesel, or other qualifying renewable diesel. It then increases the requirement by 1 percent a year to a cap in 2013, when all diesel transport and heating oil blends will contain 5 percent of the renewable fuel by volume.
The bill also transitions the gasoline tax exemption and the biodiesel blending requirement into a low carbon fuel standard should such a system be adopted in Massachusetts or by the federal government. Additionally, the bill establishes a joint legislative commission to study the feasibility of production tax credits for advanced biofuel producers or farmers who grow sustainable feedstocks.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Helping Connecticut Residents Reduce
The Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association has unveiled materials that will help consumers cut their home heating costs this winter, no matter what fuel they use to stay warm. Electricity costs have risen dramatically in the last few years, gasoline prices have spiked, heating oil costs have risen and natural gas commodity costs have gone up 83 percent just between January and June this year. However, while the government sorts out how to deal with this reality, there are ways to reduce the burden of those costs now.
“Energy conservation is the best way to lower costs and our trained energy conservation technicians work every day to help consumers keep their heating and cooling systems not just running, but running at peak efficiency to help control costs,” Gene Guilford, executive director of the ICPA, said. “There are a number of good investments that consumers can make to reduce the amount of energy they use, and our technicians can help people make the most cost-effective improvements.”
The ICPA materials include a brochure called “Controlling Energy Costs,” developed by the organization’s Technical Education Center. It spells out specific ways people can use less fuel, reduce their carbon footprint and take advantage of tax breaks for improving energy efficiencies. The brochure is available on the ICPA Web site at: www.icpaorg/ControlEnergyCosts.pdf.