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The Clean Energy Biofuels Act was signed on July 28, 2008, to encourage the growth of an advanced biofuels industry, as part of the growing clean energy technology sector in Massachusetts. In nation-leading provisions, this law gives preferential tax treatment to non-corn-based alternatives to ethanol, requires biofuel content in all the diesel and home-heating fuel sold in the state, and proposes a new fuel standard for the region that will encourage a range of emissions-reducing technologies for cars and trucks.

Major Provisions of the Clean Energy Biofuels Act:

  • Exempts cellulosic biofuels from the state gasoline excise tax. Cellulosic biofuels refer to gasoline substitutes made from the fibrous matter (cellulose) of feedstocks, such as switchgrass, agricultural wastes, and forest products, rather than corn. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to give a tax incentive for the use of cellulosic biofuels rather than corn-based ethanol.
  • Requires a minimum percentage of advanced biofuel as a 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 at least a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over their entire lifecycles (growing, processing, and combustion) in order to qualify for the content mandate. The Department of Energy Resources has authority to delay the minimum content requirements if there are no biofuels available that meet those standards or if such biofuels are deemed too costly.
  • Requires Massachusetts to pursue, 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. As of 2008, when the Clean Energy Biofuels Act was issued, only California had committed to developing a Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which could be met by a range of possible technologies - more and better biofuels, plug-in hybrids, all-electric cars, or other innovations.

This information is provided by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Energy Resources.