By Samuel Diamond
A uniform biodiesel-blending standard could be coming to the New York Metro Area by July 2018. On March 27, 2017, New York State Senator Phil Boyle (R, C, I – Bay Shore) introduced Senate Bill S5422. If signed into law, it would require that “On and after July 1, 2018, all heating oil sold for use in any building within the counties of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester shall be bioheating fuel that contains at least five percent biodiesel.”
Together, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties comprise one of the most populous suburban areas in the country, and account for approximately 70% of all heating oil sales in the state. Senator Phil Boyle told Oil & Energy, “If enacted, this legislation will ensure that these contiguous counties have the same uniform biofuel blending standards as New York City.” In October 2016, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law INT 642-A, which will raise the city’s minimum biodiesel-blending level to 5% by October 2017.
Kevin Rooney, Chief Executive Officer of the Oil Heat Institute of Long Island (OHILI) and the New York State Energy Coalition (NYSEC), notes that New York’s downstate area already has the infrastructure in place to implement a 5% minimum and that this legislation would help bring transparency to the area’s midstream market.
Rooney indicated that without a minimum blend in place, dealers are at the mercy of wholesalers who might blend in biodiesel at any level from 2%-20%, “and if it’s under 5% they don’t have to declare it on a bill of lading, so the heating oil dealers don’t know whether they’re buying blended product or not.” He added, “What you need is an across-the-board uniform standard. Then we as an industry can market to our consumers that we’re not only an ULSHO fuel but an ULSHO fuel with 5% biofuel.”
Senator Boyle agreed. “A New York Metropolitan Area regional 5% biodiesel-blending standard would bring consistency to the home heating oil delivered to and used by all consumers while saving them money,” he said.
Senator Boyle also acknowledged biodiesel’s agricultural, economic and environmental benefits: “As biodiesel is a byproduct of soybean crushing, it will also enhance the state’s soybean farming and biodiesel production economies,” he said. “As New York State continues to lead the nation in reducing air emissions, improving energy efficiency, and growing the clean energy economy, biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can help the state continue on this path, while improving air emissions and saving consumers on fuel costs.”
One discrepancy between City and State legislation is that the former calls for the minimum biodiesel blend level to be incrementally raised to 20% by 2034 while the latter does not. “We have NO INTENT of pursuing the higher levels beyond 5% as NYC has legislated,” wrote the senator.