Massachusetts Acts Address Biofuels, Green Jobs, and Greenhouse Gases

August 20, 2008

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has recently signed into law three energy-related bills that will promote advanced biofuels, support the growth of the clean energy technology industry, and cut the emissions of greenhouse gases within the state. The Clean Energy Biofuels Act, signed in late July, exempts cellulosic ethanol from the state's gasoline tax, but only if the ethanol achieves a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to gasoline. The act also requires all diesel motor fuels and all No. 2 fuel oil sold for heating to include at least 2% "substitute fuel" by July 2010, where substitute fuel is defined as a fuel derived from renewable non-food biomass that achieves at least a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The requirement for both motor diesel fuel and heating oil increases by a percentage point per year until 2013, after which it holds steady 5%. The act also allows the state to expand the requirement to other forms of fuel oil, and it requires the state to work to establish a low-carbon fuel standard under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. See the full text of the biofuels act and the governor's press release.

In early August, Governor Patrick signed two additional bills: the Green Jobs Act and the Global Warming Solutions Act. The Green Jobs Act will support the growth of a clean energy technology industry within the state, backed by $68 million in funding over 5 years. The Global Warming Solutions Act requires a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 10%-25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Under the act, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will carry the burdens of determining the baseline level of emissions in 1990 and creating a plan to meet the future emissions limits, including the establishment of interim limits for 2030 and 2040. See governor's press release and the full text of the acts for green jobs and greenhouse gas reductions.