Redefining "Renewable" Fuels

Environmental Advocates Opposes this Bill

Explanation: 

Environmental Advocates opposes this bill designed to provide significant “renewable” tax credits for fuels which are neither green nor renewable. The bill expands the definition of qualified biofuel materials to include fuels (such as cellulosic ethanol) while sweetening the pot for products, like corn ethanol, that often have higher climate pollution impacts than the gasoline they are supposed to supplant.

Ethanol has not lived up to its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is not a sustainable path forward to a smart climate future for our country. Biofuel incentives have led to the destruction of millions of acres of native prairies, wetlands and other wildlife habitat. Policies intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by encouraging a shift away from petroleum-based fuels, have not been successful. Land conversion has led to an enormous release of carbon dioxide, directly contributing to climate change. Considering a life cycle assessment, including production, transportation, processing and use, ethanol has not reduced pollution.  

Moreover, under the inappropriately loose definition of “renewable fuel oil” included in the bill, this proposal permits biofuel producers to utilize, among other materials, manufacturing and construction waste generated both in and out of state to qualify for up to $100 million in New York State tax breaks. Providing hefty incentives to produce fuel from materials that are not “clean” could hinder progress toward our climate and clean energy objectives.

The biofuel industry has not been able to mature their operations at the same rate as true renewable industries, and significant questions remain about its impacts on public health, our changing climate, and the environment. Environmental Advocates opposes the expansion of this misguided tax credit.

Summary: 

This bill would expand the existing biofuel production tax credit to include cellulosic ethanol, densified biofuel and renewable fuel oil. The legislation also raises the credit cap from $2.5 million to $10 million per year and allows the credit to be claimed for ten years, instead of the existing four.

Memo #: 

73