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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On January 4, 2017, the White House announced the release of the 2017 Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology. The 2017 Update provides a comprehensive summary of the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with respect to regulating biotechnology products. Together with the National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products, published in September 2016, the 2017 Update offers a “complete picture of a robust and flexible regulatory structure that provides appropriate oversight for all products of modern biotechnology.” Within that regulatory structure, the federal agencies “maintain high standards that, based on the best available science, protect health and the environment, while also establishing transparent, coordinated, predictable and efficient regulatory practices.” More information is available in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) memorandum White House Announces Release of Final Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology.


 
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On January 4, 2017, EPA issued a notice of intent to revoke Genscape’s ability to verify Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) as a third party auditor under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Quality Assurance Program (QAP).  According to the notice, Genscape failed to meet all elements of its Quality Assurance Plan and verified approximately 68 million fraudulently-generated RINs.  To replace invalid RINs, Genscape is required to retire RINs within 60 days.  Obligated parties, however, do not have to replace invalid RINs to meet their compliance obligations if they assert and meet the requirements of an affirmative defense pursuant to 40 C.F.R. § 80.1473.  Genscape has 60 days to submit comments on the notice, which EPA will consider when taking final action on the proposed revocation. Unless EPA issues a final action to revoke its registration, Genscape may continue to function as a QAP provider.

Tags: EPA, RIN, RFS, QAP, Biofuel

 
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On December 28, 2016, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) submitted a petition requesting that EPA waive the cellulosic biofuel volumetric requirements for the 2016 compliance year citing an inadequate domestic supply of the fuel.  Based on the amount of cellulosic fuel produced through November, AFPM estimated that between 173.8 and 190 million gallons will be produced in 2016, which is approximately 40 to 60 million gallons below the 230 million gallon target set by EPA in December 2015.  With a cellulosic waiver credit price of $1.33 for 2016, obligated parties would be required pay approximately $50 to $75 million to meet the cellulosic biofuel mandate.  The petition requests that a partial supplemental cellulosic biofuel waiver equal to the shortfall be granted to prevent am unjust penalty on obligated parties.  Since RFS compliance must be confirmed by March 30, 2017, the petition also urges EPA to defer the 2016 cellulosic biofuel waiver credit requirement until EPA can formally act on the petition.


 
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On January 6, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and USDA announced a $22.7 million funding opportunity to support integrated biorefinery (IBR) optimization, with DOE providing up to $19.8 million and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) providing up to $2.9 million .  To date, there are only a limited number of pioneer-scale commercial IBRs in the early stages of start-up and production, due to the technical and non-technical challenges associated with the reliable and continuous operation of IBRs.  The funding opportunity will be jointly managed by the DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and USDA-NIFA to address the barriers impeding the wider deployment of highly efficient IBR facilities, including increased capital, operational expenses, and scale-up complications.  Projects will be selected from the following topic areas:
 



 
Robust, continuous handling of solid materials (dry and wet feedstocks, biosolids, and/or residual solids remaining in the process) and feeding systems to reactors under various operating conditions;
 

 
High value products from waste and/or other under-valued streams in an IBR; 
 

 
Industrial separations within an IBR; and  
 
Analytical modeling of solid materials (dry and wet feedstocks, and/or residual solids remaining in the process) and reactor feeding systems. 
 
The submission deadline for concept papers is February 6, 2017, and the submission deadline for full applications is April 3, 2017.

 
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The New York State Clean Heating Fuel Tax Credit has been extended through 2020.  The personal income tax credit, which was initially authorized in 2006, is provided to eligible taxpayers for biodiesel purchases used for residential space and water heating.  For each percent of biodiesel blended with conventional home heating oil, a tax credit of $0.01/gallon is available up to a maximum of $0.20/gallon.  A partial credit will be calculated for buildings with a shared oil storage tank for residential and non-residential space that is based on the percentage of residential square footage.  A refund will be provided to taxpayers whose allowable credit exceeds their liability for that year.

Tags: New York, Tax, Fuel

 

 
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Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published two announcements in the Federal Register regarding an extension of the comment period for the proposed Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support (REGS) rule and the proposed denial of petitions for the rulemaking to change the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Point of Obligation.
 
On December 9, 2016, ten biodiesel and agricultural industry stakeholders, including the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, American Soybean Association, and the Corn Refiners Association, sent EPA a joint request for additional time to evaluate the proposed changes to the REGS rule.  In a December 27, 2016, Federal Register notice, EPA stated that the deadline for written comments would be extended due to the significant number of proposed revisions.  Comments on the proposed rule are now due by February 16, 2017.
 
On November 22, 2016, EPA published a proposed denial of petitions requesting a rulemaking process to reconsider the point of obligation under the RFS program.  After receiving a request from the Small Retailers Coalition for additional time to prepare comments, EPA extended the deadline for written comments.  Comments are now due by February 22, 2017.

Tags: EPA, RFS, REGS, Biofuel

 
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On December 28, 2016, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that six projects had been selected for a funding opportunity of up to $12.9 million titled “Project Definition for Pilot- and Demonstration-Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower.”  The projects, which revolve around technology development plans for the manufacture of advanced or cellulosic biofuels, bioproducts, refinery-compatible intermediates, and biopower in a pilot- or demonstration-scale integrated biorefinery, will be evaluated in two phases.

DOE will evaluate Phase I projects at the end of two years.  Phase I project evaluations will be based on the design and plan of the facilities, as well as the recipient’s ability to fund the required 50 percent cost share for Phase II.  In 2018, DOE is expected to announce the recipients of up to $15 million and $45 million in Phase II funding for the construction and operation of a pilot- or demonstration-scale facility, respectively.
 
Projects focused on demonstration-scale integrated biorefineries include:
 


 
The development of an integrated process for the production of jet fuel from woody biomass by combining AVAPCO’s biomass-to-ethanol process with Byogy’s alcohol-to-jet process; and  
 

 
The design and operation of an integrated demonstration-scale biorefinery for the production of low-carbon jet and diesel fuels from industrial waste gases.

Projects focused on pilot-scale integrated biorefineries include:
 


 
The design of a pilot-scale algae biofuel facility that utilizes novel technologies to improve productivity of open pond cultivation and generate more energy-efficient algae harvest; and
 

 
The design of a smaller, more cost-effective integrated biorefinery for the production of transportation fuels from woody waste and agricultural feedstocks.
 
Projects focused on pilot-scale waste-to-energy include:
 



 
The design of an advanced pyrolysis integrated biorefinery capable of converting 300 tons per day of biomass from food waste and biosolids into fertilizer and carbon-negative, renewable biopower; and 
 

 
The design of a pilot-scale integrated biorefinery that converts waste treatment and biosolids into biocrude oil, biogas, and fertilizer. 

 
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On December 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) published in the Federal Register a notice of available funds regarding the Biofuel Production Incentive (BPI) for companies refining biofuel from certain domestically grown feedstocks. The notice aims to improve transparency and simplify the process of administering CCC funds to support the Farm-to-Fleet program by identifying a specific BPI payment rate. The Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers CCC funds, will determine the per gallon incentive amount by multiplying the number of gallons of qualifying biofuel blend delivered to the U.S. Department of Navy by the appropriate payment rate based on the table below. The type of feedstock used does not affect the payment rate, as it is solely based on the blend rate of the biofuel. There is currently $50 million in funding available through 2018 to support the BPI payments. Biofuel vendors with a Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Energy contract that deliver eligible blended F–76 or JP–5 biofuel and meet the eligibility requirements can submit a claim to receive a BPI payment. 
 

Blend rate BPI payment rate per gallon
10% 8.3350 cents
11% 9.1685 cents
15% 12.5025 cents
20% 16.6700 cents
25% 20.8375 cents
30% and up to a maximum as permitted by the MILSPEC 25.0000 cents

 
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On December 22, 2016, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced that the public comment period for the draft Alternatives Analysis (AA) Guide for the Safer Consumer Products (SCP) program has been extended to February 3, 2017. The guide, which was released on December 19, 2016, aims to help relevant stakeholders navigate all phases of the SCP AA process and provide useful approaches, methods, resources, tools and examples of how to fulfill SCP's regulatory requirements. The draft AA Guide is available through the Safer Consumer Products Information Management System (CalSAFER). The SCP program aims to reduce toxic chemicals in consumer products using a four step process that identifies specific products that contain potentially harmful chemicals and asks manufacturers to assess whether the chemical is necessary and whether a safer alternative can be used.


 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On January 4, 2017, the White House announced the release of the 2017 Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology (2017 Update).  The Update to the Coordinated Framework provides a comprehensive summary of the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with respect to regulating biotechnology products.  Together with the National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products, published in September 2016, the Update to the Coordinated Framework offers a “complete picture of a robust and flexible regulatory structure that provides appropriate oversight for all products of modern biotechnology.”  Within that regulatory structure, the federal agencies “maintain high standards that, based on the best available science, protect health and the environment, while also establishing transparent, coordinated, predictable and efficient regulatory practices.”  To help product developers and the public understand what the regulatory pathway for products might look like, the 2017 Update presents information about agency roles and responsibilities in several forms, including:

  • Graphics that illustrate agency-specific overviews of regulatory roles;
  • Case studies that demonstrate how a product developer might navigate the regulatory framework; and
  • A comprehensive table that summarizes the current responsibilities and the relevant coordination across EPA, FDA, and USDA for the regulatory oversight of an array of biotechnology product areas.

In its blog item, “Increasing the Transparency, Coordination, and Predictability of the Biotechnology Regulatory System,” the Obama Administration acknowledges that while the 2017 Update represents “remarkable progress by the EPA, FDA, and USDA to modernize the regulatory system for biotechnology products, much work remains.”  EPA, FDA, and USDA will consider the comments submitted in response to the proposed 2017 Update and information gathered during the three public engagement sessions hosted by EPA, FDA, and USDA to inform ongoing and future agency activities.  In addition, the agencies commissioned an independent study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on future biotechnology products.  When completed, the agencies will consider the study’s findings, as well as the comments.  More information on the Update to the Coordinated Framework will be available in our forthcoming memorandum, which will be available on our website under the key phrase biobased products, biotechnology.


 
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Lynn L. Bergeson was quoted in the December 28, 2016, Bloomberg BNA Daily Environment Report story "Biobased Chemical, Fuel Makers Seek Parity For Their Products Under Trump" (subscription required):

Biobased chemical and fuel manufacturers want their products to be treated equally with their fossil fuel-based counterparts under the incoming administration's policies.

[...]  Lynn Bergeson, managing partner of the Washington D.C.-based Bergeson & Campbell, P.C., which manages the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG), said Pruitt’s alignment with the fossil fuel industry does not necessarily telegraph a lack of support for biobased chemicals.

Yet, ‘‘certain inferences flow from that alignment, none of which are especially good news for the biobased community,’’ Bergeson said.

The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) is the leader in TSCA compliance issues for the biobased chemical industry. Working together within BRAG the industry is pursuing reasonable, equitable regulations now and in the future.  Companies or persons interested in becoming a member or needing more information on BRAG membership, should contact BRAG executive director Kathleen M. Roberts

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On December 15, 2016,  the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) of up to $8 million dollars, subject to appropriations, for innovative technologies that assist in the advancement of algae bioenergy and bioproducts.  The FOA consists of two topic areas, including strain improvement for the development of enhanced algal strains, and algae cultivation biology improvement for the development of increased areal productivity and biofuel yield.   The objective of the FOA titled “Productivity Enhanced Algae and Tool-Kits” is to double the current state of seasonal algal biomass productivities by overcoming species-specific, ecological, and practical challenges and to improve algal productivity and biomass composition using breakthroughs in advanced biology and biology-based tools.  Selected projects will include techno-economic and life-cycle analyses of their proposed approaches to aid commercialization, and data sharing with the research and development community to accelerate future innovations.  Concept papers are due by January 13, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. (EST) and full applications are due by February 22, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. (EST).


 
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