In the Pennsylvania Bulletin, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection published a notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at lowering the allowable sulfur limit for heating oil sold in the Commonwealth. The proposed rule actually is part of process of rulemaking first initiated in 2010 (the last year of the Rendell Administration). In the 2010 proposal, the limit established would have been 15ppm by 2012.
Indicating it was responding to comments of the initial rule, the Department has changed its proposal to effectuate a limit of 500 ppm by July 2014.
Two neighboring states - New York and New Jersey - have adopted modernized sulfur limits for heating oil. New York will require a 15ppm sulfur limit beginning July 1, 2012. New Jersey has a tiered implementation schedule: "500 ppm beginning July1, 2014, followed by 15ppm by July1, 2016.
PPMCSA was a strong advocate for a 15ppm sulfur limit, supporting the original DEP proposal and legislation introduced by Senator Ted Erickson (R-Delaware) in the 2009-2010 legislative session.
The Association has publicized the cost benefits to consumers and the environment resulting from a 15ppm standard, as well as cost savings and efficiencies to be gained by distributors of diesel and heating oil, if the sulfur content would be uniform.
However, the recent uncertainty of future supply dynamics spawned by announcements of potential refinery closures in southeastern Pennsylvania has caused the industry to take more of a wait and see approach to the sulfur question.
PPMCSA will be examining the proposed rule and working with the membership to establish a position to be expressed to the Department.