The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 1, 2018, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW Committee) held a hearing entitled “Examining EPA’s Agenda:  Protecting the Environment and Allowing America’s Economy to Grow.”  Testifying at the hearing was Andrew Wheeler, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Acting Administrator.  Witness testimony and an archive of the hearing are available online.  The hearing was intended to provide Wheeler with the opportunity to present himself for the first time in front of the EPW Committee as the Acting Administrator, and to update the EPW Committee on EPA’s agenda since the resignation of Scott Pruitt, EPA’s former Administrator.  Wheeler’s testimony highlighted three main priorities for EPA moving forward:  (1) regulatory certainty between EPA and state/local governments; (2) improvement of programs within EPA; and (3) increased transparency in risk communication. On biofuels, Wheeler stated that EPA has approved pathways for biofuels derived from sorghum which “lays the groundwork for more homegrown fuels under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and adds diversity to the nation’s biofuel mix.”

Tags: Senate, EPA, RFS

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 19, 2018, the bipartisan Carbon Utilization Act was introduced by Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA) and David Young (R-IA) to promote biogas and carbon capture utilization and sequestration (CCUS) technologies. Biogas is produced by converting organic waste material into CO2, methane, and other carbon products that then are captured by CCUS technologies to use as energy or fuel. The newly introduced bill incentivizes the use of innovative technologies for farmers, biotech businesses, research programs, and rural development programs.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 2, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced a request for input from the industry, academia, National Laboratories, government agencies, and other biofuels and bioproducts stakeholders on “custom catalyst production capability for biochemical and thermochemical processes.” Particularly, BETO is seeking information on areas of research, capabilities, and challenges associated with small-scale production of custom catalysts used for conversion of lignocellulosic, waste, and algal feedstocks to produce bioproducts and biofuels. For the purposes of developing future funding opportunities, BETO is also seeking information on effective research and test methods for these reactive processes in National Laboratories. BETO is also interested in information on operational and capability needs for unit operations and equipment compromising process development units (PDU) that may assist in the transition from early-stage research to engineering-scale research. Responses to this RFI must be submitted electronically to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on or before 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on September 14, 2018.

Tags: DOE, EERE, BETO

 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an open meeting of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee under the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.  83 Fed. Reg. 37490.  The Committee will meet on August 22, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (EDT) and on August 23, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (EDT).  The purpose of these meetings is to promote research and development (R&D) that leads to the production of biobased fuels and products.  Agenda items include updates on biomass R&D from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  National laboratories and federal agencies will also be presenting their work on the Bioeconomy Initiative and on prospects and hurdles in the biobased plastics R&D field.  The meeting is open to the public for observation or oral statements on any agenda items.  Written statements will be accepted by the Committee any time before or after the meeting takes place.  To attend the meetings, contact Dr. Mark Elless at 202-568-6501, or via e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at least five business days prior to the meeting.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 30, 2018, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE) reintroduced their sustainable chemistry bill, the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2018 (S. 3296).  This bill encourages the development of new and innovative chemicals, products and processes with an improved “environmental footprint” through efficient use of resources, reducing or eliminating exposure to hazardous substances, or otherwise minimizing harm to human health and the environment.  The legislation is intended to support new innovations in chemistry that benefit the economy, the environment, and human health.  The bill supports coordinated efforts in sustainable chemistry across federal agencies through research and development, technology transfer, commercialization, education, and training programs -- including partnerships with the private sector.  The bill does not include any regulatory components, nor does it authorize new spending.  Its goal, rather, is to coordinate better federal activities in sustainable chemistry and encourage industry, academia, nonprofits, and the general public to innovate, develop, and bring to market new sustainable chemicals, materials, products, and processes.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 25, 2018, the European Union (EU) Supreme Court of Justice ruled that plants with genes that have been altered, even without the insertion of foreign DNA, are classified as genetically modified organisms (GMO) and therefore must undergo the same safety checks for their impacts on the environment and human health as organisms with foreign DNA.  According to Bio-Based World News, the ruling “is seen as a victory for environmentalists but a blow for the bio-economy” due to the much stricter rules that apply to GMOs.  Bio-based chemicals often require genome editing to provide renewable substitutes for petrochemical building blocks.  EuropaBio’s Secretary General, John Brennan, commented on this new ruling stating that it lacks regulatory clarity that is needed by EU researchers, academics, and innovators in the industry to deliver solutions.  EuropaBio plans to engage EU Member States and citizens in providing a fact-based dialogue on what genome editing is, and what it will or will not be used for.  The Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology’s Director, Detlef Weigel, also criticized the ruling, stating that it was “a sad day for European science.”

Tags: EU, GE

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

After winning AkzoNobel’s Imagine Chemistry Challenge in 2017, on July 24, 2018, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), and Renmatrix announced a decision jointly to develop biomass-based performance additives to improve architectural paints and construction materials.  Valuable to green chemistry building blocks, Renmatrix uses techniques that involve converting biomass into cellulosic sugars and bio-fractions.  AkzoNobel has agreed to research, develop, and commercialize new products using a form of the newest bio-fraction isolated by Renmatrix: Cryto­­TM Cellulose, which is a form of crystalline cellulose.  The plan is for their joint work to develop a wide range of cellulose-based materials for commercial use.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 24, 2018, a research team at the North Carolina State University announced that biobased glucaric-acid or lignin additives can increase the robustness of polyvinyl alcohol fibers, which can be used in biofriendly products including polymers, detergents, paints, and diapers.  The team plans to continue its R&D as a movement towards greener alternatives to support industries using additives with known varying levels of toxicity.  This discovery could play a large role in processing plastics for safe contact with food, people, and the environment.  In 2004, DOE listed glucaric-acid as one of the top 12 sugar-derived chemicals with the potential to be economic drivers for a biorefinery.  Lignin is low in cost and also a waste by-product of the pulp and paper industries, which can also make commercial scale production feasible.


 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 24, 2018, Andrew Wheeler, newly appointed Acting Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), held a briefing that outlined his plans for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  He plans on following Scott Pruitt’s work overhauling the policy, including counting ethanol exports toward annual biofuels quotas and bringing corn and oil groups together to overhaul the RFS system.  Wheeler also signed a final notice approving a variety of pathways for renewable fuel derived from sorghum, including biofuel and biodiesel.  The newly approved pathways meet greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction requirements to generate credits or Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels under the RFS program.

Tags: Wheeler, EPA, RFS

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 20, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Fourth Circuit) ruled that EPA must reconsider its denial of Ergon-West Virginia, Inc.’s (Ergon) application for a small refinery waiver under the RFS.  The Fourth Circuit stated that EPA relied on an “error-riddled” analysis when it denied the exemption.  Ergon is a small refinery based in West Virginia (with a daily production of 23,500 barrels) that produces primarily diesel which is not easily blended and sold in the local market.  The number of small refinery hardship waivers has jumped in recent years, with 48 waivers granted in 2016 and 2017, prompting outcry from the biofuel industry that the increased waivers undercut the RFS program.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 20, 2018, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Department of Transportation launched a consultation to explore the impact of introducing E10 fuel to the UK market.  Earlier this year, changes were made to the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) that requires transport fuel supplies to increase the amount of renewable fuel supplied in the UK beyond the current five percent ethanol blend, up to a limit of ten percent by 2032.  This plan is a component of the Road to Zero Strategy, announced on July 9, 2018, a commitment by the UK government to dramatically reduce transport emissions and move towards a zero emissions future.  The consultation is seeking views on: 

  • Whether and how to introduce E10 petrol in the UK;
  • The reintroduction of an E5 protection grade to ensure standard petrol remains available at an affordable price; and
  • The introduction of new fuel labeling at petrol pumps and on new cars.

Responses are being accepted through September 16, 2018.

Tags: UK, Biofuel, E10

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 18, 2018, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) announced that it is exploring the use of waste plastic as a raw material in fossil refining, with a plan to start an industrial scale trial during 2019.  If successful, Neste could process one million tons of plastic waste annually by 2030.  The chemical recycling process uses “waste plastics as raw material for the refining and petrochemical industries to convert into end products such as fuels, chemicals, and new plastics.”  This method compliments traditional mechanical recycling by significantly increasing the possible uses of waste plastics and creating greater demand for chemical recycling in general.  To accelerate development, Neste is looking for partners across the value chain, including in waste management and upgrading technologies.


 

 
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