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 17, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is accepting nominations for the 2021 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. EPA intends these awards to recognize innovation by American businesses and researchers that redesign chemical products and processes to reduce or eliminate the use and manufacture of hazardous substances. The 2021 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards nomination package is now available, and nominations are due December 4, 2020. EPA states that it anticipates giving awards to “outstanding green chemistry technologies” in five categories in June 2021. EPA will host a webinar on September 23, 2020, for those interested in applying. During the webinar, EPA will provide an overview of the requirements, criteria, and tips for submitting a nomination package.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On August 17, 2020, EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a report entitled Lack of Planning Risks EPA’s Ability to Meet Toxic Substances Control Act Deadlines. OIG conducted an audit to determine whether EPA met the deadlines already imposed by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act) in 2016, which amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and whether EPA has the staff, resources, and management controls in place to meet future statutory deadlines. OIG found that while EPA met several of its TSCA deadlines, it did not complete all ten required existing chemical risk evaluations by the June 19, 2020, deadline. OIG recommends that the assistant administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention publish the annual existing chemical plan, including the anticipated implementation efforts and required resources; conduct a workforce analysis to assess the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics’ (OPPT) capability to implement the TSCA requirements; and specify what skill gaps must be filled in fiscal year 2021 to meet the TSCA requirements. More information is available in our August 18, 2020, blog item.

Tags: OIG, TSCA

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On August 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) issued a request for information (RFI) on advances in components, systems, and products that can withstand harsh environments and extended service lifetimes. According to DOE, equipment used in the American energy sector often encounters material stability and durability challenges due to high-temperature, corrosive, oxidizing, mechanically wearing, embrittling, and thermal cycling. Consequently, these challenges present constraints to the implementation of energy-efficient, cost-effective, and high-performance products and processes.

DOE’s RFI seeks input on accelerated research, development, and deployment; testing and qualification methods; and cost-effective manufacturing routes for materials designed to operate under the circumstances outlined below:

  • Corrosive environments;
     
  • Very high temperature environments;
     
  • High mechanical wear/stress conditions;
     
  • Alloy embrittlement conditions; and
     
  • Other extreme conditions, such as extreme cryogenic conditions.
     

Responses to the RFI must be submitted on or prior to 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on September 21, 2020. The full submission guidelines can be accessed here.

Tags: DOE, EERE

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On August 17, 2020, DOE’s Reducing EMbodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Manufacturing Institute announced the availability of approximately $35 million in support of research and development (R&D) that will enable U.S. manufacturers to increase the recovery, recycling, reuse, and remanufacturing of plastics, metals, electronic waste, and fibers. This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is part of DOE’s Plastics Innovation Challenge, a comprehensive program to accelerate innovations in energy-efficient plastics recycling technologies by supporting high-impact R&D for plastics.

DOE issued a request for proposal (RFP) under this FOA for projects in two areas: transformational R&D and traditional R&D. The full RFP can be accessed here. Letters of intent and project abstracts are due September 14, 2020.

The Deputy Secretary of Energy, Mark W. Menezes, commented on the FOA, stating: “The Trump Administration is committed to advancing innovative reuse and remanufacturing technologies, including advanced plastic recycling technologies, and the development of new plastics that are recyclable by design. Through the Plastics Innovation Challenge, and in partnership with REMADE, DOE is proud to take part in the development of new technologies that strengthen the U.S. manufacturing ecosystem.”


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On August 12, 2020, DOE issued an RFI to obtain industry, academia, and research community input on DOE’s hydrogen and fuel cells R&D and demonstration activities and strategies, including its H2@Scale initiative. DOE hopes that feedback received will help its Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office’s (HFTO) research priorities and goals to ensure that they address current and future needs of the hydrogen and fuel cells industry. The information will also help HFTO to guide the work being conducted through National Laboratory consortia launched to focus on challenges specific to electrolyzers and heavy-duty fuel cell applications. RFI topics include: H2@Scale; R&D priorities; near-, medium-, and long-term strategy; and approaches to foster collaboration. Responses must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on September 15, 2020.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson 

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) recently released Environment 2021: What Comes Next?, a report that looks at the Trump Administration’s impact on environmental law and policy and what lies ahead. ELI states that the report is “a response to growing demand for analysis of how deregulatory initiatives by the Trump Administration will affect environmental protection, governance, and the rule of law with a focus on what might happen in a second Trump administration or a new administration.” According to ELI, the report:

  • Assesses the Trump Administration’s steps to remake federal environmental regulation and redefine the relationships among state and federal environmental decisions;
  • Identifies key categories of action affecting environmental regulation and examines some possible future outcomes; and
  • Helps environmental practitioners, policymakers, and the public at large think about what lies ahead, looking particularly at the nation’s ability to address new problems and confront as yet unsolved challenges, such as environmental justice.

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

The University of Minnesota Extension (UME) recently published a report titled “Economic Contribution of the Biobased Industrial Products Industry in Minnesota: 2019.” The report accounts for the economic impacts from the Minnesota Bioincentive Program enacted in 2015. Some of the key findings outlined by UME include but are not limited to the ones outlined below:

  • In 2019, companies claiming the Minnesota Bioincentive received $1.5 million in incentives. For every tax dollar invested in incentives, $407.10 is generated in the economy. In addition, for every dollar of incentive, approximately $8.90 is collected in taxes.
  • Construction activities of Minnesota biobased industrial product companies generated an estimated $1.2 billion of economic activity in the state, including $540.6 million in labor income. These activities also supported employment for more than 8,000 workers and generated approximately $46.5 million in tax collections.
  • Operations of Minnesota’s biobased industrial product companies generated an estimated $610.7 million of economic activity resulting from their operations, including $127 million in labor income. It also supported employment for more than 2,000 workers in the state and generated an estimated $13.3 million in tax collections.

According to the report, these impacts are annual and will continue to grow as long as companies do. A full copy of the report is available here.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On September 18, 2020, ELI will host a webinar titled “Advanced Biofuels: Fuel for the Future?” from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (EDT). The webinar, as implied by its title, will focus on the practical and policy challenges and opportunities facing advanced biofuels and the impacts of the coronavirus on biofuel production and research. Panelists may include:

  • Lauren Helen Leyden, Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, L.L.P. (invited);
  • Lynn McKay, Assistant General Counsel, Volkswagen Group of America (invited);
  • Shailesh Sahay, Senior Regulatory Counsel, POET, Inc.;
  • Luke Tonachel, Director, Clean Vehicles and Fuels Group, Climate & Clean Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); and
  • Stephanie Wettstein, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Montana State University (invited).

The webinar will be open to the public; registration, however, is required. Click here to register.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On August 4, 2020, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) voted against Mark Menezes, who is nominated to become Deputy Secretary of Energy. In a statement, both Senators said that “[g]iven the uncertainty with the ‘gap year’ small refinery waivers, the wasted time and resources to score the waivers again, the lack of transparency in the entire process, and most importantly, the toll this has taken on Iowa’s farmers and biofuel producers, we could not in good faith support Mr. Menezes at this time.” The two Senators are pushing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for increased transparency and certainty for Iowa’s farmers and producers, asking for information on DOE’s scoring of small refinery waiver petitions. They are also requesting information on when the score recommendation was transmitted back to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the statement, concerns continue to arise as DOE reviews petitions that have already been reviewed, wasting valuable time and resources to score the petitions again. A letter by the two formerly mentioned Senators has been submitted to Mr. Menezes further expressing their constituents’ concerns. The full text of the letter can be accessed here.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On July 23, 2020, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed by the U.S. Senate; it includes the bipartisan Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019, led by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and co-sponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). Introduced to the Senate in December 2019, the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019 establishes an interagency working group (IWG) led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy to coordinate federal programs and activities in support of sustainable chemistry. The IWG will develop a roadmap for sustainable chemistry with a framework of attributes characterizing sustainable chemistry, assess the state of sustainable chemistry in the United States, and identify methods by which federal agencies can incentivize sustainable chemistry activities, challenges to sustainable chemistry progress, and opportunities for expanding federal sustainable chemistry efforts. Senator Coons celebrated the victory by stating that this “is an exciting opportunity to maintain our scientific leadership and ensure the sustainability of our chemical enterprise for years to come.”


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On July 20, 2020, DOE announced that approximately $64 Million in funding for 18 projects to advance the H2@Scale vision. H2@Scale is a concept that explores the potential for wide-scale hydrogen production and utilization in the United States to enable resiliency of the power generation and transmission sectors while aligning diverse domestic industries, competitiveness, and job creation. Funded through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO), the 18 selected projects will advance hydrogen storage and infrastructure technologies.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On August 4, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced the rates for biosimilar user fees for fiscal year (FY) 2021. The fees assessed are used by FDA for certain activities in connection with biosimilar biological product development, review of applications for approval of biosimilar biological products, and approval of product applications. The established fees will apply from October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On July 31, 2020, DOE announced more than $97 million in funding for 33 projects to support research and development (R&D) of high-impact technology to accelerate the U.S. bioeconomy. The aim is for the selected projects to improve the performance and lower the cost and risk of technologies that can be used to produce biopower, biofuels, and bioproducts from biomass and waste resources. Selected projects will address the following R&D areas:

  • Scale-up of bench applications to reduce scale-up risks for biofuel and bioproduct processes;
  • Waste-to-energy strategies, including strategies for municipal solid waste; wet wastes, like food and manures; and municipal wastewater treatment;
  • Cost reduction of algal biofuels by improving carbon efficiency and by employing direct air capture technologies;
  • Quantification of the economic and environmental benefits associated with growing energy crops, focusing on restoring water quality and soil health;
  • Development and testing of low-emission, high-efficiency residential wood heaters;
  • Innovative technologies to manage major forms of urban and suburban waste, with a focus on using plastic waste to make recycled products and using wastes to produce low-cost biopower; and
  • Scalable carbon dioxide electrocatalysis technologies.

 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On July 10, 2020, DOE EERE announced that it has selected eight projects totaling more than $5 million to conduct R&D needed to accelerate the U.S. biomanufacturing sector. These projects are a part of the Agile BioFoundry (ABF) consortium and will leverage National Laboratory capabilities to address challenges in biomanufacturing. Each of these ABF selected projects has been invited to collaborate with National Laboratory research facilities to conduct their proposed research. The seed awards provide up to $500,000 in DOE funds to the laboratories for up to two years. Full awards, however, will receive up to $2 million for up to three years. The aim is for the projects to develop novel microbial hosts and bioproducts, use artificial intelligence and machine learning in synthetic biology, and address the problem of production heterogeneity in industrial microbiology. Each awardee has committed to a minimum of 20 percent cost-share contribution.


 
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