Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sen. Erickson, Heating Oil Dealers, Environmental Groups Highlight Clean Heat Plan

At an event that brought together the American Lung Association, heating oil dealers from Southeastern Pennsylvania, environmental groups, biodiesel producers and other stakeholders, State Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Delaware) today outlined his pro-environment, pro-jobs and pro-consumer proposal that would dramatically reduce sulfur content in home heating oil in Pennsylvania and require the oil to contain a biodiesel blend.
Click here for video from the press conference.
Sen. Erickson’s bill-- Senate Bill 1282, along with a companion House Bill 2578 (George-D-Clearfield), would help make Pennsylvania’s air cleaner; support agricultural and industrial jobs in the Commonwealth; and provide cost savings to consumers thanks to the use of cleaner-burning fuel.
Senate Bill 1282, which was introduced earlier this year, would reduce the sulfur content in home heating oil in Pennsylvania from as high as 5,000 parts per million (ppm) to 15 ppm and require a 5 percent biodiesel blend in the fuel that 1.2 million Pennsylvania households rely upon to stay warm each winter.
The proposed requirements mirror current national standards for on-road diesel, which is exactly the same product as home heating oil. And, the plan would bring Pennsylvania in line with New York, the largest market for heating oil in the United States, which this year implemented plans to meet the new standard.
“It’s great to be able to bring together so many different groups to highlight the benefits of legislation we are considering in Harrisburg,” Sen. Erickson said. “My proposal would result in significant environmental and energy efficiency benefits, as well as creating more jobs in the state’s biodiesel production industry and expanded opportunities for the agricultural community.”
Sen. Erickson said he’s asking his colleagues in both chambers of the General Assembly to get this legislation to the Governor’s desk before the end of the session, which is especially important because of the recent legislative action in New York.
“With New York recently modernizing its standards to clean their air and provide savings to consumers, Pennsylvania can’t afford to wait to bring the benefits of cleaner, low-sulfur heating oil to our residents. We need to put Pennsylvania at the head of the line for cleaner fuel, not at the end.”
Doug Woosnam, heating fuels chair of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said the proposal not only would clean the air, it would result in an estimated net operating savings of 14 cents a gallon - an aggregate of $85 million - to Pennsylvania consumers, since this type of fuel burns more efficiently.
He said incorporating heating oil into the state's on road biodiesel also is a logical step, which coupled with the ultra-low sulfur requirement, will make Pennsylvania's the cleanest heating oil in country.
"Petroleum marketers in Pennsylvania have long been supportive of establishing an ultra-low sulfur standard in the state,” said Woosnam. “It is only common sense for the product to be the same as mandated by the federal government for on-road and off-road diesel. If we don’t act swiftly, Pennsylvania could become a dumping ground for higher-sulfur, less efficient heating oil than is in the market today."
Recent studies have shown the Pennsylvania refineries are a net exporter of ultra-low sulfur diesel, and a new refinery in nearby Delaware City, DE, will reopen in 2011 as a producer of ultra-low sulfur heating oil and biofuel.
New York’s new rules also have created more urgency for passing the Erickson bill this year.
"New York’s action to establish 15ppm by 2012 has elevated this issue to one of great urgency for Pennsylvania families who live in the 1.2 million homes utilizing oil heat,” Woosnam said. “Refiners and other suppliers need a clear signal from Pennsylvania that it will call for the same cleaner fuel on at least the same schedule as New York."
The American Lung Association, which has strongly supported similar plans in other states, agreed with the importance of the plan and the need to pass it this year.
“Cleaner heating oil means a healthier environment. That's the message at the heart of Sen. Erickson’s Clean Heat Initiative bill,” said Kevin Stewart of the American Lung Association. “This important piece of legislation would reduce the sulfur content of heating oil used in 1.2 million homes — approximately 26 percent of all households throughout the commonwealth — and it needs to pass this session.”
Ben Wootton, president of Keystone Biofuels, also spoke in favor of the Clean Heat proposal.
“Biodiesel is a perfect additive or replacement fuel in furnaces or boilers and will reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Biodiesel is biodegradable, nontoxic, and renewable. And, it’s far less polluting than the conventional fossil fuels used for heat.”
“It’s time for Pennsylvania to join the group of states whose leaders are working to protect the environment, protect or expand jobs, and help consumers,” said Sen. Erickson.
To learn more, visit the Clean Heat Initiative webpage.

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