GOVERNOR, SENATE PRESIDENT, HOUSE SPEAKER UNVEIL NATION-LEADING BIOFUEL MEASURES
U.S. Rep. Delahunt releases report citing benefits of renewable biofuels for Massachusetts; vows to push federal policies
BOSTON - Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi today announced legislation they are jointly backing to promote advanced biofuels as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil, capture clean-air benefits, and capitalize on clean-fuel research for economic growth and jobs. This initiative, pursued by the three top leaders of state government, will solidify the Commonwealth's position as a national and global leader in clean energy technology.
The bill to be filed by Governor Patrick, Speaker DiMasi and Senate President Murray will require all diesel and home heating fuel sold in the Commonwealth to contain a minimum amount of renewable, biobased alternatives in their blends, with that amount rising from 2 percent in 2010 to 5 percent in 2013. These mandates will help build Massachusetts' emerging biofuel refinery and distribution sector. Three refineries are in the planning stages in Pittsfield, Greenfield, and Quincy, and several local and national distributors are preparing to compete in this arena. Several other states have biodiesel content standards, but Massachusetts would be the first to establish a biofuel standard for home heating oil - of particular significance because the Northeast makes much greater use of oil for home heating than other parts of the country.
The bill also exempts from the state gasoline tax ethanol derived from sources such as forest products, switchgrass and agricultural wastes. Massachusetts would be the first state in the nation to provide a tax incentive for cellulosic ethanol, an environmentally beneficial next-generation biofuel that Massachusetts-based companies are now rushing to bring to market.
"We need to add clean fuels to the mix today, but we also have to look ahead to the renewable fuel that will do the most good for the Commonwealth's environment, energy efficiency and economy," said Governor Patrick. "The state gas tax exemption for cellulosic ethanol is a big step in the right direction."
The Governor, Speaker and Senate President also announced they would create a task force to explore other ways to promote advanced biofuels for their environmental and energy benefits as well as the economic benefits of a growing clean fuels industry based in Massachusetts. The gas-tax incentive for cellulosic ethanol is projected to create 3,000 new jobs in Massachusetts and pump $320 million into the economy as the advanced ethanol is brought to market.
"Today, we stand together on a bold new biofuels initiative that we believe will make Massachusetts yet again a national leader - the same way we did with public schools, medicine, technology and health care reform," said Speaker DiMasi. "It's not just the right thing to do for our environment and our energy independence, it is the right thing to do for our economy."
"It is exciting that we are able to produce advanced biofuels with what we have right here in Massachusetts," said Senate President Therese Murray. "With advanced biofuels coming from an array of new feedstocks, including agricultural waste, sustainable energy crops, algae, and even cranberry bog biomass, many companies in the Commonwealth are already developing these fuels."
The state gas-tax exemption for cellulosic ethanol would be the first state tax incentive in the nation for the next generation of ethanol. While an important step toward energy independence, ethanol from corn is an intermediate step toward cellulosic ethanol, which offers dramatic environmental benefits and can utilize a potentially broad array of New England-grown feedstocks. The signal sent by the state gas-tax exemption, creating instant market demand for their products, will spur Massachusetts companies on in the race to commercialize cellulosic ethanol.
"This is the kind of leadership that will make Massachusetts a global center for advanced biofuels," said Bruce Jamerson, CEO of Mascoma Corp., a leading developer of renewable biofuels, based in Cambridge. "Cellulosic ethanol is a renewable fuel that will be better for the environment, better for energy independence, and better for the economy. And with the encouragement we are getting from state government today, the next generation of ethanol will be brought to market by Massachusetts companies."
U.S. Representative William Delahunt released a report detailing the benefits of biofuels for the Commonwealth, and vowed to promote biofuels at the federal level. Prepared for the congressman by the Northeast Biofuels Collaborative, a Boston-based nonprofit, the report identified four key areas for our consideration - vehicles, fuels, market access, and state incentives.
"New England is addicted to foreign oil. In Massachusetts alone, we spend more than $9 billion a year on petroleum, and it is very clear where most of those dollars are going," said Rep. Delahunt, noting that Saudi Arabia alone made $160 billion in 2005 exporting oil. "Developing cleaner fuels is not only important for our economy and our environment, it is critical for our national security. As we develop federal policies to expand the use of renewable fuels, we can do so in ways that boost efforts here in Massachusetts."