Massachusetts mandate bans algae

This recent mandate from the Massachusetts’ state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) on biofuels might be music to the ears of waste fats and oils suppliers but definitely constricts the development of non-food based biofuel feedstock such as algae, switchgrass, camelina, jatropha and other non-food oils sources.

According to a report from Biofuels Digest, DOER’s biofuels mandate would ban all biofuels not made using waste feedstocks from qualifying under the state’s Clean Energy Biofuels Act of 2008. Meaning biofuels made from plants (or organisms) that are harvested are not considered as a waste feedstock and that includes algae.

The mandate will begin July 1,2010. DOER said it will begin accepting applications for qualifying Advanced Biofuels by October 2009.

“Until further notice, DOER will only accept applications for biofuels derived from waste feedstocks which, as defined and provided in the statute, are exempt from a detailed greenhouse gas reduction analysis, provided a preliminary analysis based on both CARB and EPA methodologies indicate such waste feedstocks will yield the 50% greenhouse gas reduction threshold in the Massachusetts law.”

DOER said it will continue to track and engage with federal and California efforts to establish analytical methodologies and protocols for evaluating non-waste feedstock biofuels, and will seek to adopt such protocols, as they become available.

Biofuels produced from mixed waste and non-waste feedstocks can also seek qualification from DOER for the portion of the finished biofuel that is attributable to the waste feedstock.

Now I understand the concern about using food-based feedstock such as soybean and corn when it comes to biofuel production but excluding non-food based plants and organisms such as camelina and algae from biofuel credits is beyond me. I wonder what are the reasons behind this move?

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