Small business owners join Environment Committee co-chairs in push for less sulfur, more biofuels in home-heating oil
A bill that would reduce the amount of harmful sulfur in home-heating oil and replace it with cleaner-burning biofuels while growing state jobs received support today from small business owners and Environment Committee Co-Chairs Sen. Ed Meyer (D-Guilford) and Rep. Dick Roy (D-Milford), who said passage of the bill will result in cleaner home-heating oil, cleaner air emissions and more jobs for Connecticut’s burgeoning biofuels industry.
Senate Bill 382, “An Act Requiring Biodiesel Blended Heating Oil and Lowering the Sulfur Content of Heating Oil Sold in the State,” passed the Environment Committee by a vote of 27-3 on March 17. Yesterday, the bill was referred to the Appropriations Committee for action. The bill requires, over the course of three years, that the amount of sulfur in Number Two home heating oil offered for sale in Connecticut be reduced from the current level of approximately 3,000 parts per million to just 15 parts per million.
That would make Connecticut’s home heating oil among the cleanest in the nation and similar in content to the 65 million barrels of ‘ultra-low sulfur” automobile diesel fuel that American refineries now export to Europe and South America every year (automobile diesel fuel and Number Two home heating oil are the same product, differentiated only by the sulfur content and a dye.)
At the same time, the bill requires that all such heating oil sold in the state contain a biodiesel blend (derived from vegetable oils and animal fats) beginning with a 2-percent blend in 2011 and concluding with a 20-percent blend by 2020.
“The fact that sulfur reduction was sought by our home-heating oil distributors reflects the benefits of this initiative—cleaner and lower-cost fuel,” Sen. Meyer said. “I look forward to the inclusion of biodiesel fuels that will be healthy both for our environment and our economy,” Rep. Roy said. “I think that this is a path that we can blaze and be an example for the rest of the country, and I hope that they join us now and for our future.”
There are significant health benefits to using low-sulfur home-heating oil. It emits substantially fewer air pollutants such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. Fewer airborne particles contribute to better overall health by lessening heating oil’s contribution to asthma, lung disease, and cancers, among other ailments. Sulfate emissions also lead to acid rain, which raises acidity levels to toxic levels in ponds and lakes, stunts or kills the growth of plants and trees, and damages buildings and other property by eroding structure surfaces.
“450,000 people in Connecticut are living with lung disease, including over 86,000 children and 248,000 adults with asthma. Senate Bill 382 is an important step in reversing this public health crisis,” said Dawn Mays-Hardy of the American Lung Association in Connecticut. “The American Lung Association enthusiastically supports this bill and the effect it will have on air quality along with the health benefits it will bring the citizens of Connecticut.”
A new report by the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) concludes that using low-sulfur home heating oil could save Connecticut homeowners approximately $45 to $75 a year in reduced heating plant service costs due to the benefits of a cleaner-burning, less-corrosive fuel. Approximately 700,000 Connecticut households use heating oil for heat and hot water. The NORA report also concludes that if Connecticut changes the sulfur content of its home- heating oil, it would use only a fraction of the surplus ultra low-sulfur diesel oil that is already exported overseas every year by American refineries.
“I want to thank Senator Meyer and Representatives Roy and Clark Chapin for their work on this important issue. Their leadership will help to bring the cleanest home-heating fuel in the nation to Connecticut,” said Gene Guilford, president of the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association. “Big oil may not want Connecticut to use cleaner fuels here in our state, but we do. Our more than 682,000 Connecticut heating oil customers, environmentalists and others in the legislature are excited to be taking this important step.”
According to the Connecticut Biodiesel/Bioheat Association, implementation of S.B. 382 would result in the creation of nearly 300 “green collar” jobs in Connecticut in biofuel manufacturing, distribution and research, as well as generating $27 million in new state excise and property taxes and $77 million in federal and private investments.
“The Connecticut biodiesel industry stands ready to meet the growing requirements for this cleaner-burning fuel in home heating systems. We are a young and growing industry in Connecticut,” said CBBA President Gus Kellog, who is CEO of Greenleaf Biofuels of Guilford. “This is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that greatly reduces air pollution in order to protect our state’s citizens. Connecticut’s local biodiesel producers are dedicated to producing the most sustainable biofuels possible, and that is why both existing production facilities and planned facilities will all be using recycled waste materials to produce biodiesel.”