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Massachusetts to Accept Only Waste-Derived Biofuels to Qualify for Mandate for Diesel and Home Heating Oil

Only biofuels derived from waste feedstocks will initially be considered to qualify as an advanced biofuel to meet the Massachusetts Biofuels Mandate for diesel and home heating oil, according to the plan unveiled by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), in coordination with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Waste feedstocks are defined in the enabling legislation specifically as “previously used or discarded solid, liquid or contained gaseous material with heating value resulting from industrial, commercial or household food service activities that would otherwise be stored, treated, transferred or disposed. Waste feedstock shall include, but not be limited to: waste vegetable oils, waste animal fats, substances derived from wastewater and the treatment of wastewater or grease trap waste.” Other forms of renewable biomass—agricultural crop residues, dedicated energy crops, or algae—are excluded.

For consideration as a qualifying fuel, the waste-derived biofuel must yield a 50% greenhouse gas reduction threshold required in the Massachusetts law as determined by a preliminary analysis based on both CARB and EPA methodologies.

In its issued plan, DOER says that it and MassDEP (Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection) will continue to track and engage with federal and California efforts to establish analytical methodologies and protocols for evaluating non-waste feedstock biofuels, and will seek to adopt such protocols, as they become available, for the purpose of the Massachusetts Biofuels Mandate.

Biofuels that are produced from a mix of waste and non-waste feedstocks can seek qualification from DOER for the portion of the finished biofuel that is attributable to the waste feedstock.

The Clean Energy Biofuels Act. Governor Patrick signed the Clean Energy Biofuels Act on 28 July 2008. The Act includes three major provisions:

  • Exempts cellulosic biofuels from the state gasoline excise tax. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to give a tax incentive for the use of cellulosic biofuels rather than corn-based ethanol.

  • Biofuels mandate. Requires a minimum percentage of biofuel as component of all diesel fuel and home heating fuel sold in the Commonwealth, starting at 2% in 2010 and ramping up to 5% by 2013.

    Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to require biofuel in home heating fuel. All biofuels must meet high standards for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over their entire lifecycles (growing, processing, and combustion) in order to qualify for the content mandate. The state Department of Energy Resources has authority to delay the minimum content requirements if there are no biofuels available that meet those standards.

  • Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Massachusetts is to develop, as a successor to minimum percentage requirements, a Low Carbon Fuel Standard that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector by 10% and to seek an agreement with the member states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to implement the Standard on a regional basis.

The Mandate. The Biofuels Mandate, as enabled in the Clean Energy Biofuels Act of 2008, will begin 1 July 2010. The first year (1 July 2010 – 30 June 2011) will be structured as follows:

  • Mandated volume will be waived for first year, but Early Action Credit will be provided for all gallons of qualified advanced biofuels, which will be applied to second-year mandate obligations.

  • Compliance Entities (petroleum terminal operators that supply heating oil and diesel fuel consumed in MA) will have to report sales of heating fuel oil, diesel fuel, non-qualified biodiesel content in all shipments received (B0-B5 levels), and Qualified Advanced Biodiesel volume sold (gallons sold by each supply source) for Early Action Credit.

  • DOER will announce by 31 December 2010 whether the second-year Biofuels Mandate will be at the 2% or 3% level.

  • The Mandate will be implemented in subsequent years on an “averaging basis” such that Compliance Entities must show that sufficient volume of qualified advanced biofuels was supplied to meet the required percentage on average, over the course of the full compliance year.

In response to the release of the plan, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) issued a statement urging DOER to accept applications for qualifying advanced biofuels from biofuel producers using all sources of renewable biomass.

By permitting only biofuels made from waste feedstocks under its mandate, Massachusetts is preventing its own biotech companies from deploying their advanced technology to turn other sources of renewable biomass into advanced biofuels...

I am sure this effort is based on good intentions, but it sets a very bad precedent by excluding some of the most sustainable renewable resources from being utilized to make cleaner and greener transportation fuels...

Preliminary analysis by the US Environmental Protection Agency shows that many biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the 50 percent threshold in the Massachusetts law. The EPA’s analysis even identifies use of biotechnology as one of the aspects of its best-case scenario. However, the EPA’s analysis of lifecycle emissions from biofuels are based on a model whose calculations are highly dependent on vague assumption. We believe Massachusetts may be making a grave mistake to cut off promising avenues of research and commercialization of advanced biofuels based on the preliminary results of this model.

—Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section



Henry Gibson

Biofuels failed to supply enough energy a hundred years ago or more in this country and in all others. The biofuels mandate law is a violation of the fundamental ideas as well as the language of the US constitution. This is the same as if Massachusetts has declared its intent to seceed from the Union.

This is a law which impairs the obligation of contracts.

People in Texas may wish to contract with people in Massachusetts to deliver pure petroleum fuel uncontaminated with fuel that may have been derived from edible materials or materials that were edible and could be made edible again.

It is also an infinitely high duty on such fuels that congress has not allowed Massachusetts specifically to impose, and the bill does not have a provision for Massachusetts paying this infinitely high duty into the treasury of the US.

It is also a treaty illegally imposed upon all other states of the US and nations of the world.

((((Section 10 - Powers prohibited of States

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.))))

If my company made diesel or heating fuel from natural gas and nuclear electricity such that it had half of the overall carbon release of ordinary fuel it would not be permitted to be sold in the state eventhough it released only half the CO2 on a well to wheel basis as the specified fuel.

I could make diesel from CO2 and water and nuclear electricity or hydro-electricity that actually had a negative CO2 release effect on the nation and it would be prohibited in Massachusetts.

The lawmakers in Massachusetts are purposely misleading the voters of the state by pretending that what they are doing will be of benefit to them. It will be a great detriment and only a benefit to the special interests and lobbyists and the politicians who wish to gain votes by misleading the public if only in the fact that they are pretending to do something about the CO2 in the whole earths atmosphere. China will get Massachusetts' industry, jobs and money and will continue to build new coalfired power plants every week.

If Massachusetts wished to actually reduce the release of CO2 in the State. It would require small houses, small cars, cogeneration and nuclear power plants. ..HG..

Henry Gibson

Massachusetts is trying to impose its own invented ecological religion upon the rest of the US and the world. ..HG..


This isn't the oddest thing governments have done but it sounds awkward.

I have a few questions:

Can these waste feedstock biofuels be readily distinguished from non-waste biofuels. Anyone? I don't know.

If not, won't the producers of each biofuel variation have to keep it separated? Would that mean the final blending must be done within Massachusetts.

OTOH, I am glad to learn Massachusetts can afford it. Other states, rumor has it, are experiencing revenue problems.




Almost as weird as the ($0.56/gal) tax on imported ethanol versus ($0.00/gal) on crude oil.

Multi-Modal Commuter Dude (formerly known as Bike Commuter Dude)

Harvey: the tariff on imported ethanol was initially meant to get the American ethanol industry off and running without Brazil "dumping" much cheaper (about $0.55/gal) ethanol on our market. Now, perhaps the only useful part of that tariff is preventing ethanol from being shipped thousands of miles on a tanker, which seems like it would counter its low carbon benefits.
Perhaps it is time to repeal the tariff, and let the free market decide the price of oil/ethanol.

Multi-Modal Commuter Dude (formerly known as Bike Commuter Dude)

Oh, yeah, Brazil still makes sugarcane ethanol for such a low price that it still makes sense to import it, which many companies still do! This speaks to how inefficient and expensive it is to make corn ethanol. However, any bioethanol is still renewable, which petrochemicals are not.

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