Representing New York's Heating Fuels Industry

NYS Adopts 2017-18 Budget

Biodiesel Blending Requirement Discussed But Not Adopted
By: Michael Trunzo, Dir. of Government Affairs, Shenker Russo & Clark LLP 

For the first time in eight years, the Governor and Legislature failed to reach an on-time State Budget agreement which is due by April 1; however, they concluded their deliberations on April 6th.

NYSEC, along with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), had been pursuing a 5% biodiesel blending requirement for heating oil in the "downstate" region of New York. The proposal sought to institute a 5% minimum blending standard in Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester counties, along with New York City which already has a 5% blending standard which will go into effect as of October 1, 2017.

During the budget deliberations, the State Senate included language in their budget proposal supporting "the development of infrastructure for and incentivizing the usage of bioheating fuel containing biodiesel". While this supportive statement did not lead to inclusion in the final State Budget, it did provide a pathway for the introduction of "stand-alone' legislation (S.5422 / A.6954) in both houses by Senator Phil Boyle, (R-Islip) and Assemblyman Steven Englebright, (D-Setauket) along with a number of their colleagues from the three counties and NY City, to implement the proposal. Given that there were positive discussions regarding this proposal, NYSEC will be pursuing the adoption of this legislation during the remainder of the 2017 Legislative Session.

On other fronts, there are a couple of pieces of legislation that NYSEC is actively engaged in. They include:

    • S.1515 / A.1773 - This bill would change the financial responsibility for Major Oil Storage Facilities from the current $25 per barrel ($1 million or $2 million depending upon location) to essentially replicate the federal treatment of a "vessel" which would increase the financial responsibility to $350 million. This legislation is primarily aimed at crude oil transportation, specifically by rail and water. While NYSEC has been working with the sponsors to amend this legislation to remove its application for heating oil and diesel fuel, the recent grounding of a gasoline barge on the Hudson River in Westchester County may complicate our efforts.

 

  • Fill Pipe Legislation - NYSEC has also been working with Senator Boyle on legislation to address the issue of erroneous fills to improperly abandoned oil tanks which consequently cause spills in basements. The Senator is concerned about the proper abandonment of tanks and the permanent closure of fill pipes upon conversion from heating oil to another fuel. Given that current NYS Law, the State Building Code and NFPA 30 already require proper abandonment of unused heating oil tanks and the permanent closure of the fill pipe to avoid such erroneous deliveries, NYSEC has proposed legislation that would require certification by a gas utility or its sub-contractor of proper oil tank abandonment BEFORE any conversion to another fuel can be put into service. The Senator has agreed to work with NYSEC on this legislation during the remainder of the Legislative Session.