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
Massachusetts Advanced Biofuels Task Force report (2008)