April 26, 2010
New York Sources of Sustainable Biofuel Could Help Decrease Greenhouse Gas Pollution, Create Jobs, and Increase Energy Security
New York sources of biofuel made from wood, grass and other forms of biomass could reduce New York’s gasoline consumption by as much as 16 percent of projected use in 2020 and play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report issued today by Pace Law School’s Energy and Climate Center.
Produced at the recommendation of Governor David Paterson’s Renewable Energy Task Force, the “Renewable Fuels Roadmap and Sustainable Biomass Feedstock Supply for New York State was developed to evaluate the positive and negative impacts associated with increased use and production of this renewable fuel, and to help guide state policy on renewable fuels for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Francis J. Murray, president and CEO of NYSERDA, said: “Diversifying our energy sources is essential for New York to strengthen our energy security and improve our business climate in the future, and biomass has the potential to play a significant role in these efforts. We look forward to working with our partners in government and the private sector to maximize the potential of biofuel in ways that create jobs and produce a cleaner, stronger future for New York.”
Senator George Maziarz, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, said, “As this roadmap shows, the development of renewable biofuels is an emerging area that deserves our attention and focus. Any time we can identify room for the growth of a solid industry in New York we should be doing all we can to capitalize on it. Reducing energy costs for consumers in an environmentally-sensitive way must be a top priority if our state is to move forward.”
Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Vice Chair/Ranking Majority Member of the Senate Energy & Telecommunications Committee, said, “Biofuels are a key link between the future of our state’s agricultural industries and our goals for energy independence. This study shows clearly that biofuels represent a very real opportunity for our farmers to diversify with high yield crops, for energy companies to create jobs here, and for New York to lead the way toward energy security. I want to thank the Governor and NYSERDA for remaining committed to alternative energy.”
New York State Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation Pete Grannis, said: “It is clear that significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are needed to help fight climate change. This Roadmap will help New York State to develop those renewable fuels that sustainably use our natural resources and ensure environmental and public health protection in New York State.”
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said, “With the potential to create 14,000 green collar jobs, coupled with the opportunity to realize an estimated $1.8 billion in revenue annually, the creation of an environmentally sustainable biofuels industry in New York State carries with it the promise of true upstate economic revitalization. As portrayed in the Renewable Fuels Roadmap, New York is positively positioned for this emerging industry with both the natural and intellectual resources, and agriculture’s role will certainly be a significant one in reaching our goals.”
The Roadmap evaluates the future of biomass and liquid biofuel production for transportation purposes in New York State in order to address increasing greenhouse gas emissions as well as independence from petroleum usage. It presents a snapshot of New York’s current biomass production, including agricultural products and forest products, and addresses biomass feedstock inventory, land uses, transportation and distribution infrastructure, competing uses for biomass, and biofuel conversion technologies.
Some key findings include:
- Based only on in-state feedstocks, New York could provide 5.6 - 16% of estimated 2020 gasoline consumption.
- Biomass-based liquid fuels, or biofuels, potentially can play a large role in reducing the state’s emissions of greenhouse gases, which are a leading contributor to global warming.
- A new industry that makes cellulosic biofuels from sustainable feedstocks has the potential to decrease GHG emissions by between 67% and 85% compared to the equivalent energy content of petroleum fuel.
- Potentially negative environmental impacts include air quality impacts, soil erosion, impaired water quality, acidification of water and soil, and reduced biodiversity. Implementing appropriate best management practices would minimize some of these adverse impacts.
- Compared to fossil fuels, in a total life cycle analysis of cellulosic biofuels from sustainable feedstocks, levels of certain air pollutant emissions may be reduced, such as sulfur oxides,benzene and 1,3-butadiene. Levels of other pollutants may increase, such as nitrogen oxides, aldehydes and particulate matter. Increased emissions of some air pollutants may lead to increased public health concerns.
- Four centralized large-scale or 24 smaller-scale biofuels product facilities could operate with sustainably available biomass in the State.
- An assessment of the current technologies to convert biomass to advanced biofuels suggests that the industry is five to ten years away from commercial production.
- Depending upon the rate at which the biofuels industry grows, between 4,000 and 14,000 jobs would be created state-wide
- Establishing a sustainable biofuels industry will require the adoption of a suite of policies that provide flexibility, balance and opportunity to New York.
To conduct the study, the Pace Energy and Climate Center assembled a team of the leading authorities on biofuels throughout the Northeast, including researchers from Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and from consulting firms on energy and environmental issues such as Energetics, Energy and Environmental Research Associates, and Antares Group. The Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management as well as Cornell Cooperative Extension branches throughout New York State are also members of the Pace-led team.
Comments may be submitted at NYSERDA’s website through July 15, 2010.
Annual updates will be prepared in 2011 and 2012 in order to address technological improvements and policy developments.
View a copy of the report at the Renewable Fuels Roadmap.
Jeffrey Gordon, NYSERDA
518-862-1090 ext. 3544
Last Updated: 05/14/2013