Bill Memo: Unsustainable Heating Oil

Detriment rating

Summary

This legislation requires all heating oil sold for consumption in New York State contain a blend of at least 50-percent biodiesel or renewable hydrocarbon diesel by 2035.

Explanation

In 2019, the Legislature passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), legislation The New York Times rightly labeled “one of the world’s most ambitious climate plans.” Successful implementation of the CLCPA requires the transition of buildings off fossil fuels to a system powered by clean energy in a manner that treats all communities equitably. The Climate Action Council Draft Scoping Plan envisions all electric new building construction by 2027, two million homes electrified with heat pumps by 2030, and 250,000 homes retrofitted annually after 2030. This legislation clashes with that vision by creating an artificial market supporting the production of blended heating oils for combustion in New York’s buildings.

Current law requires the blending of biodiesel with petroleum heating oil to peak at 20-percent in 2030. This bill would require a 50-percent bioheat blend of petroleum and biodiesel or renewable hydrocarbon diesel by 2035. However, these biofuels may be just as, if not more, carbon intensive than ultra-low sulfur fuel oil due to upstream emissions. Emissions analyses of biofuel combustion often do not consider the full lifecycle of emissions from production of the crops and materials that make up the fuels. Biofuels derived from unsustainable monoculture farming – such as soybean farming in Brazil and palm oil crops in Indonesia – involve carbon-intensive practices for irrigation, transportation of materials, and on-site fuel use for machinery. These practices also cause deforestation in a time when the planet’s forests should be seen as a critical asset in combating climate change. They also lead to soil degradation and may increase food insecurity as available land for agriculture becomes threatened by climate change.

The CLCPA set an end date for the combustion of fuels in New York State. This bill sets up an artificial market for the production new blended fuels when the demand for such fuels is headed in the opposite direction. New Yorkers would be better served with initiatives designed to drive the adoption of efficient air and ground-sourced heat pumps to help meet the goals of the climate law.

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Environmental Advocates NY Bill Rating: Detriment

Memo #: 59