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NEFI Creates Task Force to Explore Bioheat Policies


The New England Fuel Institute (NEFI) has formed a Bioheat® Policy Task Force to examine federal, regional and state policies designed to encourage the blending, sale and use of biodiesel-blended heating oil. Encouraging regional biodiesel production and blending will assist NEFI in its goals to sustain and improve the availability and economic and environmental competitiveness of home heating oil for consumers of the fuel.

The Task Force will examine biodiesel infrastructure and supply in New England and the implications of government policies on the region's availability and supply of biodiesel. It will then report its findings and make recommendations to the Board of Directors on NEFI's policy positions and how the Board can work in concert with the biodiesel industry in pursuit of shared goals.

Ted Noonan, of Noonan Energy (Springfield, MA), and Howard Peterson, of Peterson Oil Service (Worcester, MA), will co-chair the Task Force. Its members include NEFI Government Affairs Committee Chairperson Dave Foster, of Wilcox Energy (Westbrook, CT); Jeff Hammond, of PETRO Home Services; Roberta Fagan, of the Oil Heat Institute of Rhode Island; Kevin Rooney, of the Oil Heat Institute of Long Island; and Jim Collura, of NEFI, who will effectively staff the group.

The group has identified experts to serve as Task Force Advisers, including NEFI's Michael Trunzo and Regulatory Counsel Mark S. Morgan, Esq.; Paul Nazzaro, Sr., of Advanced Fuel Solutions; and John Huber, of the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA). The group will also reach out to and cooperate with regional heating oil and biodiesel suppliers as it conducts its work.

Legislative and regulatory proposals have surfaced throughout the region that aim to help meet state and federal targets for the reduction of carbon emissions. This includes Obama Administration regulations such as the Clean Power Plan, which establishes limits on carbon emissions from power plants. The plan provides states with some flexibility in meeting compliance obligations through the enactment of alternative emissions-reduction policies. This may create opportunities, such as the expansion of state renewable energy programs to allow credits for biodiesel-blended heating oil. It also creates new challenges, such as the carbon tax proposals now being pushed in some state legislatures.

Biodiesel-blending mandates for heating oil are also being considered. Rhode Island and New York City have already implemented such requirements. Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts have laws on the books that have not yet been implemented. New York is likely to consider legislation to establish a statewide mandate in the near future.

The ability to meet these requirements could be affected by federal biodiesel policies. This includes a proposal in Congress to move eligibility for the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit from blenders to producers; and efforts by major oil companies and petroleum refiners to modify or repeal the EPA's Renewable Fuels Standard. The NEFI Task Force will examine all of these issues in the regional context.

"NEFI's longtime support for the production, blending and use of biodiesel was on my mind in creating this Task Force," said NEFI Chairperson of the Board Sharon Peterson of Apple Oil (West Haven, CT). She cited a 2015 NORA study that documents the environmental advantages of biodiesel-blended heating oil, which "confirms the value of our mission and prompted us to seek the best ways to increase biodiesel supply and offer increased blends." To that end, Peterson said she hopes the Task Force will answer the question, "What policies would work best to increase the renewable content of our region's fuel supply and still maintain a competitive product for our consumers?" Therefore, the task force will examine a variety of government policies including blending mandates, tax credits and making Bioheat eligible for credits under state, regional or federal renewable energy programs.

For more information, contact Jim Collura at jim.collura@nefi.com or (617) 923-5023.

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