New York State took a major step forward on the path to net-zero emissions when Governor Kathy Hochul on Dec. 23 signed a bill phasing in a requirement for all heating oil sold in-state to contain 20% biodiesel. Once fully implemented, the new law will reduce New York’s annual petroleum diesel consumption by approximately two hundred million gallons per year, cutting the state’s annual carbon emissions by approximately 1 million metric tons, leaders of industry groups said.
Biodiesel is an alternative fuel made from domestically produced low-carbon resources such as soybean oil or used cooking oil. On average, biodiesel reduces CO2e greenhouse gas emissions by 74% versus petroleum diesel. The new law calls for increasingly higher blends, starting with 5% statewide by July 1, 2022, then phasing up to 10% in 2025 before the 20% requirement takes effect in 2030. A 5% standard has been in place for New York City and Long Island since 2017, and some fuel dealers are already selling blends as high as 50% (B50).
“The measures contained in this bill, which will take a fuel blending requirement statewide, are one of the many steps the State must take in order to meet the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and reduce the States’ greenhouse gas emissions,” Governor Hochul wrote in an approval memo. The governor also cited biodiesel’s “immediate air quality and public health benefits” and said that she was “pleased to sign this bill.”
New York’s home heating industry has been a vocal proponent of biodiesel-blended heating oil, or “Bioheat fuel,” for many years, and has pledged to work with government policymakers to reduce home heating fuel emissions to net-zero by 2050. Biodiesel has been in widespread use throughout New York and the greater Northeast for more than a decade. Ongoing field use and equipment testing at the National Oilheat Research Alliance laboratory in Plainview, New York has proven Bioheat fuel’s viability at various blend levels. Research demonstrates that consumers do not need to modify their current oil-fired heating equipment to use this low-carbon heating fuel.
“Bioheat fuel helps to eliminate fossil fuels and can be used without replacing existing heating systems, making it a low-cost, low-carbon solution that is available right here, right now,” said New York State Energy Coalition CEO Rocco J. Lacertosa and Empire State Energy Association Executive Director Kris DeLair in a joint statement. “We applaud Governor Hochul for signing this legislation, which makes New York the largest state to enact a biodiesel blending requirement for home heating fuel. We’d also like to thank State Assemblyman Steve Englebright, State Senator Todd Kaminsky and the National Biodiesel Board for their leadership on this issue.”
Approximately 1.4 million homes in New York State depend on heating oil or blended Bioheat fuel for warmth each winter. The requirement taking effect next summer will immediately reduce their yearly fossil fuel use by as much as fifty million gallons in 2022 and by two hundred million gallons by 2030.