Massachusetts passes biofuels bill

By Kris Bevill | July 14, 2008
Web exclusive posted July 30, 2008 at 10:18 a.m. CST

On July 28, Massachusetts became the second state this month to pass biofuel-friendly legislation. Gov. Deval Patrick signed the Clean Energy Biofuels Act into law at Mascoma Corp. headquarters in Boston, ushering in what Massachusetts officials hope will be an era of new growth for the state's clean energy technology sector.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania passed a budget that included a biodiesel-blending mandate and an extension of the current biodiesel production subsidy. To read that story, click here.

"The world is waiting for the next generation of clean, renewable alternatives to petroleum fuels, and Massachusetts is poised to deliver," Patrick said. "This new law will help us develop advanced biofuels and get them to market, without driving up food prices. We want these new fuels in our tanks and these new jobs in our economy here in Massachusetts."

The act includes the following provisions:
  • An exemption from the state gasoline excise tax for cellulosic ethanol. The current state gas tax is 21 cents per gallon. The exemption will go into effect on Jan.1, 2009. Because cellulosic ethanol has yet to be produced commercially in Massachusetts, there is not expected to be any immediate takers of this provision. However, the tax exemption is effective until Dec. 31, 2017.

  • A mandate requiring all home heating fuel and diesel to be a B2 blend of biodiesel in 2010 and B5 by 2013. The act allows for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to delay content requirements for home heating and diesel fuel if it is determined there are no fuels available to meet the standards.

  • The state is required to develop a Low Carbon Fuel Standard, similar to the standard currently being developed in California.

There are currently no operating biodiesel production facilities in Massachusetts. According to Biodiesel Magazine's recently conducted proposed plant list, Berkshire Biodiesel is expected to break ground on its 52 MMgy facility in Pittsfield, Mass., in early 2009.

Gov. Patrick acknowledged Massachusetts has had virtually no role in the current corn-ethanol and biodiesel industries. However, cellulosic technology companies Mascoma Corp. and SunEthanol Inc. are both headquartered in the state.

Bruce Jamerson, chief executive officer of Mascoma, said he is "thrilled" to see Massachusetts demonstrate a commitment to biofuel development. Jamerson was also a member of the Advanced Biofuels Task Force created to advise legislators on the bill's content.
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