Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C., law firm providing biobased and renewable chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in bringing innovative products to market.
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
As reported in our September 13, 2022, blog item, on September 12, 2022, President Joseph Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) creating a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative “that will ensure we can make in the United States all that we invent in the United States.” The White House hosted a Summit on Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing on September 14, 2022. According to the White House fact sheet on the summit, federal departments and agencies, with funding of more than $2 billion, will take the following actions:

  • Leverage biotechnology for strengthened supply chains: The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will invest $40 million to expand the role of biomanufacturing for active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), antibiotics, and the key starting materials needed to produce essential medications and respond to pandemics. The Department of Defense (DOD) is launching the Tri-Service Biotechnology for a Resilient Supply Chain program with a more than $270 million investment over five years to turn research into products more quickly and to support the advanced development of biobased materials for defense supply chains, such as fuels, fire-resistant composites, polymers and resins, and protective materials. Through the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, the Department of Energy (DOE) will work with the Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to leverage the estimated one billion tons of sustainable biomass and waste resources in the United States to provide domestic supply chains for fuels, chemicals, and materials.
     
  • Expand domestic biomanufacturing: DOD will invest $1 billion in bioindustrial domestic manufacturing infrastructure over five years to catalyze the establishment of the domestic bioindustrial manufacturing base that is accessible to U.S. innovators. According to the fact sheet, this support will provide incentives for private- and public-sector partners to expand manufacturing capacity for products important to both commercial and defense supply chains, such as critical chemicals.
     
  • Foster innovation across the United States: The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced a competition to fund Regional Innovation Engines that will support key areas of national interest and economic promise, including biotechnology and biomanufacturing topics such as manufacturing life-saving medicines, reducing waste, and mitigating climate change. In May 2022, USDA announced $32 million for wood innovation and community wood grants, leveraging an additional $93 million in partner funds to develop new wood products and enable effective use of U.S. forest resources. DOE also plans to announce new awards of approximately $178 million to advance innovative research efforts in biotechnology, bioproducts, and biomaterials. In addition, the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge will invest more than $200 million to strengthen America’s bioeconomy by advancing regional biotechnology and biomanufacturing programs.
     
  • Bring bioproducts to market: DOE will provide up to $100 million for research and development (R&D) for conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals, including R&D for improved production and recycling of biobased plastics. DOE will also double efforts, adding an additional $60 million, to de-risk the scale-up of biotechnology and biomanufacturing that will lead to commercialization of biorefineries that produce renewable chemicals and fuels that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, industry, and agriculture. The new $10 million Bioproduct Pilot Program will support scale-up activities and studies on the benefits of biobased products. Manufacturing USA institutes BioFabUSA and BioMADE (launched by DOD) and the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) (launched by the Department of Commerce (DOC)) will expand their industry partnerships to enable commercialization across regenerative medicine, industrial biomanufacturing, and biopharmaceuticals.
     
  • Train the next generation of biotechnologists: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is expanding the Innovation Corps (I-Corps™), a biotech entrepreneurship bootcamp. NIIMBL will continue to offer a summer immersion program, the NIIMBL eXperience, in partnership with the National Society for Black Engineers, which connects underrepresented students with biopharmaceutical companies, and support pathways to careers in biotechnology. In March 2022, USDA announced $68 million through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative to train the next generation of research and education professionals.
     
  • Drive regulatory innovation to increase access to products of biotechnology: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is spearheading efforts to support advanced manufacturing through regulatory science, technical guidance, and increased engagement with industry seeking to leverage these emerging technologies. For agricultural biotechnologies, USDA is building new regulatory processes to promote safe innovation in agriculture and alternative foods, allowing USDA to review more diverse products.
     
  • Advance measurements and standards for the bioeconomy: DOC plans to invest an additional $14 million next year at the National Institute of Standards and Technology for biotechnology research programs to develop measurement technologies, standards, and data for the U.S. bioeconomy.
     
  • Reduce risk through investing in biosecurity innovations: DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration plans to initiate a new $20 million bioassurance program that will advance U.S. capabilities to anticipate, assess, detect, and mitigate biotechnology and biomanufacturing risks, and will integrate biosecurity into biotechnology development.
     
  • Facilitate data sharing to advance the bioeconomy: Through the Cancer Moonshot, NIH is expanding the Cancer Research Data Ecosystem, a national data infrastructure that encourages data sharing to support cancer care for individual patients and enables discovery of new treatments. USDA is working with NIH to ensure that data on persistent poverty can be integrated with cancer surveillance. NSF recently announced a competition for a new $20 million biosciences data center to increase our understanding of living systems at small scales, which will produce new biotechnology designs to make products in agriculture, medicine and health, and materials.

A recording of the White House summit is available online.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule on September 2, 2022, establishing an optional alternative renewable identification number (RIN) retirement schedule for small refineries under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the 2020 compliance year. 87 Fed. Reg. 54158. Small refineries that elect to use the alternative RIN retirement schedule will have to comply fully with their 2020 RFS obligations, including any RIN deficits from 2019 carried forward into the 2020 compliance year, by February 1, 2024. According to the final rule, the goal of the alternative RIN retirement schedule is to support small refineries in their transition into positions where they will be able to comply with their renewable volume obligations (RVO) on an ongoing basis. EPA notes that this will also ensure the use of renewable fuels in the United States as required by the RFS program and help provide certainty in the RFS program and fuels markets, given the “unique circumstances” as a result of its June 2022 actions, denying 60 small refinery exemption (SRE) petitions for the 2016-2021 compliance years that were still pending. The final rule was effective on September 2, 2022.

Tags: RIN, RFS, Biofuel

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a CRS report, updated on September 19, 2022, entitled The Bioeconomy: A Primer. The report provides an overview of the bioeconomy, details the efforts of the United States and other selected nations pertaining to the bioeconomy, and offers policy considerations for strengthening the role of the United States in the global bioeconomy. The report does not examine the policies and programs of individual sectors that contribute to the bioeconomy (e.g., biofuels, biomanufacturing, pharmaceuticals, or agriculture), but instead discusses the bioeconomy from a macro level perspective.
 
According to the report, issues for consideration regarding advancement of the U.S. bioeconomy that could be pursued by Congress include:

  • Development and Implementation of a National Strategy: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and others have recommended that the federal government develop and regularly update a national bioeconomy strategy. As reported in our September 13, 2022, blog item, on September 12, 2022, President Joseph Biden signed Executive Order (EO) 14081 “to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to advance biotechnology and biomanufacturing towards innovative solutions in health, climate change, energy, food security, agriculture, supply chain resilience, and national and economic security.” According to the report, the policies and activities included in the EO appear to respond to NASEM’s recommendation for a more comprehensive vision and approach to advancing the U.S. bioeconomy. If Congress is interested in further supporting the U.S. bioeconomy, it may consider codifying some of the efforts initiated under the EO or establishing an alternative high-level coordination body tasked with developing, implementing, and evaluating a comprehensive U.S. bioeconomy strategy. It could also continue to support a more decentralized framework that encourages sector specific programs and activities related to the bioeconomy. The report states that “[r]egardless of the approach, sustainment of bioeconomy policies and programs across presidential Administrations and Congresses will likely be necessary for maintaining U.S. leadership in the future bioeconomy.” The report acknowledges that ensuring long-term engagement, including the provision of sufficient resources, “is often challenging.”
     
  • Investment in Research and Development (R&D): According to the report, many experts call for increased federal investment in R&D to maintain U.S. leadership in the bioeconomy. In general, experts highlight the life sciences, computing and information sciences, engineering, and biotechnology for increased support, and many also emphasize the convergence of such disciplines. Beyond investments in basic and applied research in areas deemed critical to advancing the bioeconomy, some call for improvements in bioeconomy-related R&D infrastructure, including biomanufacturing platforms and pilot facilities. The report states that Congress may find that a more holistic view of its investments in and oversight of biological research, infrastructure, and data is necessary. At least 25 federal agencies and departments support biological R&D, and the jurisdiction of such agencies spans multiple congressional committees, making coordination, oversight, and coherence of bioeconomy policies and investments more challenging.
     
  • Promotion of Regional Efforts: The report states that to have ready access to biological resources (e.g., crops, forests), implementation of many aspects of the bioeconomy will occur at the regional scale and involve rural communities. According to the report, policies to encourage the development of bioeconomy clusters and regions, including resources for planning and the creation of networks that facilitate collaboration between diverse stakeholders, including firms from divergent sectors and small businesses, are common. The report notes that it is unclear if existing programs and efforts to support regional innovation and technology-based economic development, including in rural areas, are sufficient to advance the bioeconomy. Congress may examine the size, scope, effectiveness, and synergy of existing programs, in addition to creating new programs or modifying existing programs to promote regional bioeconomy efforts.
     
  • Creating a Market for Biobased Products: The report states that an analysis by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that bioeconomy-related policies focus primarily on supply-side or technology push measures (i.e., support for R&D and demonstration efforts). According to the report, OECD emphasized the importance of public procurement in helping to create a market for biobased products and recognized the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred Program “as the most advanced effort in this regard.” Despite the relative success of the program, NASEM identified some areas for improvement, including updating the reporting mechanisms involved in the federal procurement of biobased products, setting procurement targets, and increasing funding for the program to enable increased awareness and standardized reporting.
     
  • Developing a Bioeconomy Workforce: According to the report, “[t]here is broad consensus that access to a skilled workforce is essential to advancing the bioeconomy,” and “it is also clear that bioeconomy education and training should be multidisciplinary in nature.” As noted by OECD, “the long-standing conundrum of multidisciplinary education is the need for both breadth and depth to graduate people with problem-solving abilities,” however. Additionally, according to OECD, the bioeconomy workforce needs more undergraduates than doctorates. The report states that Congress may examine federal investments in bioeconomy training, education, and workforce development and the progress of the federal government in attaining the goals outlined in its strategic plan on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
     
  • Public Engagement and Acceptance: The report states that due to the significance of public acceptance, a number of countries are pursuing public engagement and awareness activities and policies. In a 2017 study, NASEM recommended that federal agencies invest in new methods of understanding the ethical, legal, and societal implications (ELSI) of future biotechnology products. Congress may conduct additional oversight on federal efforts to enhance public awareness and acceptance of biobased products and services and may also consider the level of resources allocated toward ELSI-related research across federal agencies, as well as the coordination of such efforts.
     
  • International Collaboration: According to the report, most bioeconomy-related policies and strategies are focused at the national level with some exceptions (e.g., the European Union (EU)). In the United States, some states, such as Maine and Michigan, have engaged in bilateral collaborations. The report states that Congress “may examine the state of international collaboration on the bioeconomy and the need for congressional direction in this regard.”
     
  • Sustainability and Creating a Circular Economy: A number of nations, especially those in the EU, are increasingly connecting their bioeconomy strategies and policies to action plans associated with creating a more sustainable and circular economy. Many countries see a connection between the bioeconomy and a circular economy as a means to address a number of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Congress may consider the degree to which U.S. bioeconomy policies and activities can or should be tied to and aligned with achieving the SDGs. Additionally, while the use of waste material as a feedstock is central to a circular economy, there are often challenges to its use. Congress may examine any regulatory impediments or other barriers to creating a circular economy.

The crosscutting nature of the bioeconomy, in addition to the diversity of potential benefits associated with its growth and advancement, offer a number of reasons for increased congressional interest in bioeconomy policies. The crosscutting nature of the bioeconomy also poses potential challenges to effective policymaking, including the harmonization of policies and coherent governance. Moreover, it likely means that the growth and success of the U.S. bioeconomy will depend, in part, on effective public-private partnerships in research, innovation, education, and workforce development. Transitioning to a biobased economy would take sustained commitment, including balancing short-term actions and long-term planning, removing barriers to such a transition, and creating the opportunity for radical innovation. Congress may decide there is no need to reorganize or group together federal activities, including some long-standing efforts, under a bioeconomy framework. It may decide to pursue bioeconomy-related policies through new or existing sector-specific focused efforts, or it may decide current policies and activities are sufficient. Regardless, other countries are adopting policies and strategies to advance their bioeconomies. Such efforts have the potential to challenge U.S. leadership in biotechnology and other bioeconomy-related sectors that many view as critical to national security and economic competitiveness.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and the Agile BioFoundry (ABF) will hold a webinar on September 22, 2022, highlighting technologies used by the ABF to accelerate biomanufacturing. According to BETO, the ABF consortium collaborates with industry and academia to develop technologies that enable commercially relevant biomanufacturing of sustainable bioproducts. During the webinar, attendees will hear from ABF scientists on how they use state-of-the-art machine learning, deep learning, testing, and modeling techniques to guide the bioengineering process and speed up bioproduct development.
 
The webinar will feature the following speakers:

  • Nathan Hillson, staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the principal investigator of the ABF. Dr. Hillson leads the consortium’s Integrated Design-Build-Test-Learn task;
  • Taraka Dale, scientist and principal investigator at Los Alamos National Laboratory and co-lead of ABF’s Host Onboarding and Development task;
  • Hector Garcia Martin, staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and co-lead of ABF’s Learn subtask, and
  • Philip Laible, biophysicist at Argonne National Laboratory and co-lead of ABF’s Learn subtask.

Registration for the webinar is open. 


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On September 12, 2022, President Joseph Biden signed an Executive Order creating a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative “that will ensure we can make in the United States all that we invent in the United States.” On September 14, 2022, the White House will host a Summit on the National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative during which cabinet agencies will announce a wide range of new investments and resources that will allow the United States to harness the full potential of biotechnology and biomanufacturing and advance the President’s Executive Order.
 
According to a White House fact sheet, the initiative will accelerate biotechnology innovation and grow America’s bioeconomy across multiple sectors in industries such as health, agriculture, and energy. It will “drive advances in biomanufacturing that substitute fragile supply chains from abroad with strong chains at home, anchored by well-paying jobs in communities all across America.” It will improve food and energy security, and promote agricultural innovation while mitigating the impacts of climate change.
 
Specifically, the initiative will:

  • Grow Domestic Biomanufacturing Capacity: The initiative will build, revitalize, and secure national infrastructure for biomanufacturing across America, including through investments in regional innovation and enhanced bio-education, while strengthening the U.S. supply chain that produces domestic fuels, chemicals, and materials.
     
  • Expand Market Opportunities for Biobased Products: The fact sheet notes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred Program “is the standard for sustainable procurement by government agencies, both providing an alternative to petroleum-based products and supporting good-paying jobs for American workers.” The initiative will increase mandatory biobased purchasing by federal agencies and ensure that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and USDA regularly publish progress assessments. The fact sheet states that doing so “will provide specific directions to industry about gaps in biobased product options, leading to the creation of new products and new markets.” Together, the initiative will grow and strengthen the BioPreferred Program, increase the use of renewable agricultural materials, and “position American companies to continue to lead the world in bio-innovation.”
     
  • Drive Research and Development (R&D) to Solve Our Greatest Challenges: According to the fact sheet, focused government support for biotechnology can quickly produce solutions, “as seen with the first-of-their-kind mRNA vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic.” This initiative directs federal agencies to identify priority R&D needs to translate bioscience and biotechnology discoveries into medical breakthroughs, climate change solutions, food and agricultural innovation, and stronger U.S. supply chains.
     
  • Improve Access to Quality Federal Data: Combining biotechnology with massive computing power and artificial intelligence can produce significant breakthroughs for health, energy, agriculture, and the environment. The Data for the Bioeconomy Initiative will ensure that biotechnology developers have streamlined access to high-quality, secure, and wide-ranging biological data sets that can drive solutions to urgent societal and global problems.
     
  • Train a Diverse Skilled Workforce: The United States is facing a shortage of relevant talent spanning all levels, from community college to graduate school. The initiative will expand training and education opportunities for all Americans in biotechnology and biomanufacturing, with a focus on advancing racial and gender equity and support for talent development in underserved communities.
     
  • Streamline Regulations for Products of Biotechnology: Advances in biotechnology are rapidly altering the agricultural, industrial, technological, and medical products landscape, which can create challenges for developers and innovators. The initiative will improve the clarity and efficiency of the regulatory process for products of biotechnology so that valuable inventions and products can come to market faster without sacrificing safety.
     
  • Advance Biosafety and Biosecurity to Reduce Risk: The initiative will prioritize investments in applied biosafety research and incentivize innovations in biosecurity to reduce risk throughout the biotechnology R&D lifecycles.
     
  • Protect the U.S. Biotechnology Ecosystem: The initiative will protect the U.S. biotechnology ecosystem by advancing privacy standards and practices for human biological data, cybersecurity practices for biological data, standards development for bio-related software, and mitigation measures for risks posed by foreign adversary involvement in the biomanufacturing supply chain.
     
  • Build a Thriving, Secure Global Bioeconomy with Partners and Allies: According to the fact sheet, the initiative advances international cooperation to leverage biotechnology and biomanufacturing to tackle the most urgent global challenges -- from climate change to health security -- and to work together to ensure that biotechnology product development and use aligns with our shared democratic ethics and values, and that biotechnology breakthroughs benefit all citizens.

The White House has posted a transcript of the press call announcing the Executive Order.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

Come learn about the 2023 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards program and the nomination process. This year the program will recognize winners in six categories, including: Greener Synthetic Pathways; Greener Reaction Conditions; The Design of Greener Chemicals; Specific Environmental Benefit: Climate Change; Small Business; and Academic.

Registration is open.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On September 1, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the availability of two new resources to answer stakeholder questions regarding the revised biotechnology regulations under 7 C.F.R. Part 340:

These resources, along with other information on the revised biotechnology regulations, are available on the APHIS website. For additional questions regarding the regulation of modified microorganisms, contact APHIS at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). For questions regarding confirmation requests, contact APHIS at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On August 25, 2022, Natural Resources Canada (NRC) announced a call for project proposals to support the establishment of biomass supply chains to ensure that a steady and usable supply of sustainable feedstock is available to clean fuel production facilities across Canada. According to NRC, as a component of the Clean Fuels Fund, this dedicated biomass call includes three project streams that are expected to enable emissions reductions while benefiting communities, leveraging private sector investments, creating jobs, and providing opportunities for Indigenous-led businesses and communities. Application is open to legal entities validly incorporated or registered in Canada, including not-for-profit and for-profit organizations such as:

  • Electricity or gas utilities;
  • Private sector companies;
  • Industry associations;
  • Research associations;
  • Standards organizations;
  • Indigenous and community groups;
  • Canadian academic institutions; and
  • Provincial, territorial, regional, or municipal governments, or their departments or agencies where applicable.

Eligible projects include:

  • Capital biomass supply chain projects that use technologies in advanced stages of technological readiness (TRL-9) and that are designed for commercial deployment; and
  • Feasibility studies, basic engineering studies, and detailed front-end engineering studies to assess the new build or expansion of low carbon fuel production facilities. In addition, feasibility studies to assess the feasibility of establishing a regional biomass supply chain risk rating.

All projects must be completed by March 31, 2026. Projects could receive up to 50 percent of eligible costs to a maximum of $5 million in funding. Applications will be accepted until November 23, 2022, for non-Indigenous applicants. Indigenous applications will be received on a continuous intake basis until funding is no longer available.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On August 25, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that registration was open for the 2022 Conference on the State of the Science on Development and Use of New Approach Methods (NAM) for Chemical Safety Testing. EPA notes that there will be limited availability in person at EPA headquarters in Washington, DC, on October 12-13, 2022, and a virtual option will also be available. Conference topics include:

  • Variability and Relevance of Traditional Toxicity Tests;
  • Evolution of Validation and Scientific Confidence Frameworks to Incorporate 21st Century Science; and
  • Breakout groups discussing Variability of Traditional Toxicity Tests, Relevance of Traditional Toxicity Tests, and Feedback on EPA Scientific Confidence Framework.

EPA asks that attendees register for the NAMs conference before October 7, 2022.
 
On October 18, 2022, EPA will provide training on the Computational Toxicology (CompTox) Chemicals Dashboard, which is part of a suite of databases and web applications developed by EPA to support the development of innovative methods to evaluate chemicals for potential health risks. The computational toxicology tools and data in the Dashboard help prioritize chemicals based on potential health risks. Specifically targeted for decision-makers, the training will provide:

  • An overview of the Dashboard content and function;
  • Application-oriented use-case demonstrations in the areas of general use, hazard/bioactivity, exposure/absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME)-in vitro to in vivo extrapolation (IVIVE), and chemistry; and
  • Opportunities for participatory learning and engagement.

The training will offer information about the latest release of the Dashboard and how it can be used to gather actionable information about chemical properties and risks through case examples, demonstrations, and hands-on exercises. Registration is now open (attendees must register for the training portions individually):


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on August 23, 2022, that USDA is accepting applications for $100 million in grants to increase the sale and use of biofuels derived from U.S. agricultural products. 87 Fed. Reg. 51641. The funding is available through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). The program seeks to market higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel by sharing the costs to build and retrofit biofuel-related infrastructure such as pumps, dispensers, and storage tanks. Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. (EST) on November 21, 2022.
 
Under HBIIP, USDA provides grants to transportation fueling and distribution facilities. These grants lower the out-of-pocket costs for businesses to install and upgrade infrastructure and related equipment. The $100 million will support a variety of fueling operations, including filling stations, convenience stores, and larger retail stores that also sell fuel. The funds will also support fleet facilities, including rail and marine, and fuel distribution facilities, such as fuel terminal operations, midstream operations, and distribution facilities, as well as home heating oil distribution centers.
 
The grants will cover up to 50 percent of total eligible project costs -- but not more than $5 million -- to help owners of transportation fueling and fuel distribution facilities convert to higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel. These higher-blend fuels must be greater than ten percent for ethanol and greater than five percent for biodiesel.
 


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 22, 2022, that as part of its commitment to re-evaluate policies and practices under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) New Chemicals Program to ensure they adhere to statutory requirements and the Biden Administration’s executive orders and directives, it has updated its policy to discontinue the use of exposure modeling thresholds when assessing the health and environmental risks of new chemicals under TSCA. According to EPA, due in part to the automation of modeling, it has become less burdensome to complete these calculations. Furthermore, according to EPA, removing the thresholds supports President Biden’s Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” which calls on federal agencies to advance equity, including by reviewing and revising as needed government policies and programs impacting underserved communities.
 
The New Chemicals Program will implement this change by making minimal changes to the coding in the New Chemical Review application to remove the thresholds and will update standard operating procedures and training materials for exposure and human health risk assessors. EPA states that it will implement this policy change “as soon as feasible.” According to EPA, despite the resource challenges it is currently facing in the TSCA program, it anticipates that the change “will have minimal impact on the amount of time it takes to complete new chemical reviews and that the benefits gained from a more comprehensive accounting of all potential air and water releases will help ensure any needed protections are in place before a new chemical can come to market.”
 
More information and a detailed commentary that discusses thresholds of toxicological concern (TTC) are available in our August 22, 2022, memorandum.


 
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 By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced on August 11, 2022, that a research team from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory investigated how potassium in biomass feedstocks poisons a catalyst. The researchers focused their study on potassium, a common alkali metal found in biomass feedstocks, since previous analysis of deactivated catalysts after catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP) of woody biomass feedstock revealed potassium accumulation on the catalysts’ surface.
 
The research team simulated catalyst poisoning at different potassium levels to trigger deactivation during industrial operations. They then analyzed the catalysts and conducted kinetic measurements to determine how the catalysts’ ability to catalyze chemical reaction changed with the introduction of potassium. According to BETO, the team found potassium poisoning could be substantially mitigated with a developed regeneration method -- a water washing process -- that can successfully remove most of the loaded potassium, restoring more than 90 percent of the catalytic activities.
 
BETO states that the results of these studies provide new insights for the bioenergy industry that will foster improved catalyst design and regeneration for longer lasting catalysts. The studies also created “a solid knowledge base for developers of biomass conversion technologies to continue to build upon, making new and innovative conversion technologies less risky to research and develop.” According to BETO, the work “also supports accelerated process development that can help industry convert biomass feedstocks commercially, leading to more effective and inexpensive production of biofuels.”


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 18, 2022, that it is accepting nominations for the 2023 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards from companies or institutions that have developed a new green chemistry process or product that helps protect human health and the environment. The awards again include a category to recognize technology that reduces or eliminates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. EPA will hold a webinar on September 28, 2022, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. (EDT) to educate stakeholders on the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards and the nomination process. Registration for the webinar is open. Nominations are due to EPA by December 9, 2022.
 
EPA states that green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation and use of chemicals that are hazardous to the environment and people’s health. According to EPA, its efforts to “speed the adoption of this revolutionary and diverse discipline” have led to significant environmental benefits, innovation, and a strengthened economy. Green chemistry aims to prevent pollution before it is created, making it the preferred approach for providing solutions to some of the most significant environmental challenges.
 
An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute will formally judge the 2023 nominations and make recommendations to EPA for the 2023 winners. EPA anticipates giving awards to outstanding green chemistry technologies in six categories in fall 2023.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On July 26, 2022, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Next Generation Fuels Act (S. 4621), which would aim to leverage higher-octane fuels to improve engine efficiency and performance. According to Grassley’s July 26, 2022, press release, allowing the sale of fuels with greater octane levels would increase the amount of ethanol that can be used in the fuel supply, in turn lowering prices at the pump for consumers. The press release states that due to ethanol’s high-octane rating, greater ethanol blends result in both additional fuel efficiency and significant greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction. Ethanol is also priced lower than gasoline, making it the most cost-effective octane source. Under the bill, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be required to carry out a study of the emissions effects of ethanol-blended fuels in light-duty vehicles and light-duty trucks, for the purpose of updating the Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator modeling system. The bill would establish a minimum research octane number (RON) standard of 98 for gasoline, which is higher than the typical octane rating of 91 RON today. It would also require sources of the added octane value to reduce carbon emissions by at least 40 percent compared to baseline gasoline. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 11, 2022, that it updated the Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL), “a living list of chemicals by functional-use class that EPA’s Safer Choice program has evaluated and determined meet the Safer Choice Standard.” EPA added 22 chemicals to the SCIL. EPA states that to expand the number of chemicals and functional-use categories on the SCIL, it encourages manufacturers to submit their safer chemicals for review and listing on the SCIL. In support of the Biden Administration’s goals, the addition of chemicals to the SCIL “incentivizes further innovation in safer chemistry, which can promote environmental justice, bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change, and improve water quality.” According to EPA, chemicals on the SCIL “are among the safest for their functional use.”
 
EPA also changed the status for one chemical on the SCIL and will remove the chemical from the list in one year “because of a growing understanding of the potential health and environmental effects.” According to EPA, the chemical was originally listed on the SCIL based on data from a closely related substance that EPA marked with a grey square earlier this year. EPA’s process for removing a chemical from the SCIL is first to mark the chemical with a grey square on the SCIL web page to provide notice to chemical and product manufacturers that the chemical may no longer be acceptable for use in Safer Choice-certified products. A grey square notation on the SCIL means that the chemical may not be allowed for use in products that are candidates for the Safer Choice label, and any current Safer Choice-certified products that contain this chemical must be reformulated unless relevant health and safety data are provided to justify continuing to list the chemical on the SCIL. EPA states that the data required are determined on a case-by-case basis. In general, data useful for making such a determination provide evidence of low concern for human health and environmental impacts. Unless information provided to EPA adequately justifies continued listing, EPA then removes the chemical from the SCIL 12 months after the grey square designation.
 
According to EPA, after this update is made, there will be 1,055 chemicals listed on the SCIL. EPA is committed to updating the SCIL with safer chemicals on a regular basis. EPA states that the SCIL is a resource that can help many different stakeholders:

  • Product manufacturers use the SCIL to help make high-functioning products that contain safer ingredients;
  • Chemical manufacturers use the SCIL to promote the safer chemicals they manufacture;
  • Retailers use the SCIL to help shape their sustainability programs; and
  • Environmental and health advocates use the SCIL to support their work with industry to encourage the use of the safest possible chemistry.

EPA’s Safer Choice program certifies products containing ingredients that have met the program’s rigorous human health and environmental safety criteria. The Safer Choice program allows companies to use its label on products that meet the Safer Choice Standard. The EPA website contains a complete list of Safer Choice-certified products.


 
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