Massachusetts Bans All But Waste-Feedstock Biofuels from Qualifying Under Clean Energy Biofuels Act


The act specifies all diesel and home heating fuel be blended with 5% biofuels by 2013. Photo: Atomic Taco via flickr.

In a move which understandably will get second-generation biofuels manufacturers in a tizzy, Massachusetts' state Department of Energy Resources has stated that it will ban all biofuels not made from waste feedstocks from qualifying as part of the state Clean Energy Biofuels Act. Biofuels Digest has the story:That means that second-generation feedstocks such algae, cyanobacteria, miscanthus, switchgrass, and other non-food crops will all not qualify for the preferential tax treatment specified under the CEBA. Nor will they qualify for blending into all the diesel and home heating oil sold in the state.

The DOER stated that,

Until further notice, DOER will only accept applications for biofuels derived from waste feedstocks, which, as defined and provided in the statute, are exempt from a detailed greenhouse gas reduction analysis, provided a preliminary analysis based on both [California Air Resources Board] and EPA methodologies indicate such waste feedstocks will yield the 50% greenhouse gas reduction threshold in the Massachusetts law.

Move Excludes Many Good Potential Biofuel Feedstocks
It seems like Mass. DOER has its collective head in the right place on this one -- they want to ensure that biofuels in the program really do give the carbon emissions reductions they claim to -- but in practice have overshot the mark.

The move would prevent corn-based ethanol and palm oil-based biodiesel, as both really don't result in significant reduction in emissions when the full life cycle of the product is considered. Which is a good thing. However, at first reading, excludes plenty of promising feedstocks, which while certainly may not be sole solutions to anyone's energy needs, probably do have a place in a well-balanced future energy mix.

More: Massachusetts Biofuel Mandate: Program Design Decisions and Implementation Plan [PDF]

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Tags: Biofuels | Carbon Emissions | Massachusetts | Renewable Energy