Under new legislation, Massachusetts would be the first to establish a biofuel standard for home heating oil.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi have announced joint legislation to promote advanced biofuels as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil, capture clean-air benefits, and capitalize on clean-fuel research for economic growth and jobs.

The bill will require all diesel and home-heating fuel sold in the Commonwealth to contain a minimum amount of renewable, biobased alternatives in their blends, with that amount rising from 2 percent in 2010 to 5 percent in 2013.

The mandates are set in hopes to build up the state’s emerging biofuel refinery and distribution sectors. Three refineries are planned for Pittsfield, Greenfield, and Quincy. Also, several local and national distributors are preparing to compete in this area as well. While several other states have biodiesel content standards, Massachusetts would be the first to establish a biofuel standard for home heating oil – of particular significance since the Northeast makes such a greater use of oil for home heating than other parts of the country.

“New England is addicted to foreign oil. In Massachusetts alone, we spend more than $9 billion a year on petroleum, and it is very clear where most of those dollars are going,” said U.S. Representative William Delahunt, noting that Saudi Arabia alone made $160 billion in 2005 exporting oil. “Developing cleaner fuels is not only important for our economy and our environment, it is critical for our national security. As we develop federal policies to expand the use of renewable fuels, we can do so in ways that boost efforts here in Massachusetts.”

The bill also exempts from the state gasoline tax ethanol derived from sources such as forest products, switchgrass and agricultural wastes. Massachusetts would be the first state in the nation to provide a tax incentive for cellulosic ethanol, an environmentally beneficial next-generation biofuel that Massachusetts–based companies are now rushing to bring to market.