Mass. biodiesel mandate moving ahead despite uncertainties

By Ron Kotrba | October 14, 2009
Posted November 17, 2009

The Massachusetts biodiesel mandate, which has been criticized for allowing only waste-derived biodiesel to qualify, is moving forward despite what the Massachusetts Oilheat Council called in it's Nov. 13 newsletter a "spell of relative silence" surrounding the mandate.

On Sept. 30, MOC president Michael Ferrante sent an email to Dwayne Bregger, director of renewable and alternative energy development in the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, asking specifics regarding the mandate, to which Bregger replied, "Do know that we are moving forward with the Early Action Year beginning July 2010. We anticipate the EPA RFS2 protocol for greenhouse gas reductions to be available by the end of this year and that we will find it acceptable for adoption for [the Massachusetts] program. At that time, DOER will be able to qualify all biofuels (regardless of feedstock) that can demonstrate the 50 percent GHG reduction."

The state's exclusion of soy and other virgin oil biodiesel in its mandate was based on EPA's proposed RFS2 rule, which was flawed in methodology used to calculate GHG emissions from crop-based biodiesels. In Bregger's response to Ferrante, he wrote, "The eligibility of biofuels from agricultural feedstocks will depend on whether they meet the 50 percent GHG reduction criterion as per the Protocol, which we will adopt (most likely EPA RFS2 protocol)."

Bregger also said, "Tracking the biofuels (and differentiating "advanced"/qualified biofuels from others) into [Massachusetts] and then through the [Massachusetts] market is an area that we are much engaged in now. We will need to complete those procedures and then move into draft regulations."

In a separate email to all of the state biofuels stakeholders from Phil Giudice, commissioner of the Massachusetts energy department, Giudice wrote, "DOER has committed to initiating the mandate in July 2010 as an Early Action Year." This means that "Early Action Credits" will be given beginning in July 2010 for all gallons of qualified biodiesel sold into the Massachusetts market, which may then be applied to the 2011 mandate obligations. Giudice noted, "However, to the extent that the successful implementation of the federal RFS2 program, the promulgation of DOER reulations and demonstrated industry readiness make possible, DOER will move to begin mandatory compliance prior to July 2011."

According to the MOC, it's still unclear what percentage level-either 2 percent or 3 percent-mandatory compliance beginning in 2011 or earlier will start.
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