The heating oil industry is looking to replace the oil it sells with an advanced, clean-burning formulation, and two U.S. Representatives from Connecticut have introduced a bill in Congress to mandate the switch, according to a recent news article.
Connecticut Representatives Rosa DeLauro and John Larson recently introduced the Clean Heating Oil Act, which would reduce the levels of sulfur in heating oil. Heating oil dealers strongly support the switch to a reduced-sulfur fuel because they want to sell their customers the best available fuel. They have been pressing for new fuel mandates at the state level since 2007 with mixed success. New York switched to ultra low sulfur heating oil on July 1. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and Maine are scheduled to make the same change between now and 2018.
By mandating the switch to cleaner fuel at the federal level, the heating oil industry and its allies hope to ensure the use cleaner heating oil in every state and simplify the transition. Ultra low sulfur heating oil also reduces system maintenance costs and improves heating efficiency. The new fuel is readily available throughout the U.S., because it is virtually identical to Clean Diesel fuel, which is now required for use in all on-road diesel vehicles.
“The Clean Heating Oil Act will build on state efforts to reduce the amount of sulfur in heating oil,” DeLauro said. “Many states, including my home state of Connecticut, have recognized the important environmental and health impacts this will have, and the bill I am introducing today builds on and recognizes their efforts.”
DeLauro noted the ready availability of ultra-low sulfur fuel. “With net exports of almost seven billion gallons of ultra low sulfur diesel fuel last year, the U.S. is already producing plenty of low sulfur fuel,” she said. “It is high time we started using more of that fuel to heat our homes, benefit our environment and improve our health.”
“I am committed to improving the quality of the air we breathe,” said Larson, “This legislation will improve public health by reducing harmful pollutants in our air and will build on state efforts by setting a consistent national standard for low sulfur heating oil.”
The Clean Heating Oil Act reduces the allowable sulfur concentration in heating oil to 15 parts per million, the same concentration as diesel fuel, and in line with the sulfur reduction that started with 1990’s Clean Air Act amendments. The bill also provides the Environmental Protection Agency with some flexibility for implementing the limitation with temporary exemptions for small businesses and small refiners. The legislation also allows the Secretary of Energy ability to temporarily waive the low sulfur requirement in the event of supply disruptions.
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