Thursday, July 15, 2010

EQB Approves Proposed Rule Saving Heating Oil Users $86 Million Annually

On July 13 the Environmental Quality Board approved a proposed regulation change which would save Pennsylvania heating oil users $86 million a year (14 cents a gallon) by lowering the sulfur content of heating oil and reduce maintenance costs for customers using the cleaner-burning fuel.
The measure matches a law adopted by New York in the last few weeks and legislation pending in our own General Assembly-- House Bill 2578 (George-D-Clearfield) and Senate Bill 1282 (Erickson-R-Delaware) (see 7/5/10 and 3/22/10 Pa Environment Digests).
The regulation will require heating oil sold in the Commonwealth have a sulfur content not to exceed 15 parts per million by May 2011. This limit mirrors the federal ultra low sulfur requirement for both on-road and off-road diesel. The on-road ultra low sulfur requirement was fully implemented in 2009 and the off-road will be by August of this year.
Heating oil and diesel fuel are in the fact the same product and refiners have been making ultra low sulfur diesel fuel to meet the federal requirements since 2009. Sunoco, a Pennsylvania-based oil refiner in Marcus Hook, now makes nothing but ultra low sulfur heating oil and diesel fuel for its customers.
The use of ultra low sulfur fuel will also help the state meet federal mandates of limiting PM .5 particulate standards and reduces the state's carbon foot print compared to the existing fuel.
The legislation, unlike the rule, would also bring heating oil into the state's biofuels mandate which already requires diesel fuel to contain 5 percent farm-grown soybean oil or other biofuels by May 1, 2011.
The low sulfur, bio-heating oil proposals are supported by the Pennsylvania Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and other groups.
When published in the PA Bulletin, the ultra low sulfur rule will be the subject of three public hearings and a 60 day public comment period.
A copy of the proposal and other background is available under the July 13 meeting handouts on the Environmental Quality Board webpage.

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