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

In early September, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs Office announced that from December 14 to 17, 2020, the Brookhaven National Laboratory will host a virtual workshop for industry researchers to showcase the capabilities and expertise available at DOE’s Office of Science User Facilities. Designed to benefit researchers who have either previously used the Brookhaven facilities and researchers with an interest in learning about accessing the Brookhaven facilities, the workshop program will focus on researchers working in all major industry sectors. Some of these industry sectors include petrochemicals, energy storage, advanced materials, pharmaceuticals, microelectronics, and advanced manufacturing, and DOE believes that companies will benefit from learning how Brookhaven facilities can impact their research and development (R&D) mission.

The workshop will be formatted so that attendees can spend time remotely observing the labs and Brookhaven’s capabilities in action, while engaging in technical discussions with the lab experts. As a virtual “facilities open house,” the workshop will also allow attendees to measure remotely their own samples and collect data. In addition, presentations from industry users of Brookhaven facilities, question and answer sessions, and opportunities to engage directly with DOE program managers will be featured. The workshop is open to the public, and interested parties may register here.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 14, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a pre-publication version of a final rule establishing the procedures and requirements for how EPA will manage the issuance of guidance documents consistent with Executive Order (EO) 13891, “Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents.” The final regulation provides a definition of guidance document for the purposes of this rule, establishes general requirements and procedures for certain guidance documents issued by EPA, and incorporates additional requirements for guidance documents determined to be significant guidance. EPA notes that the regulation, consistent with the EO, also provides procedures for the public to petition for the modification or withdrawal of active guidance documents as defined by the rule or to petition for the reinstatement of a rescinded guidance document. EPA states that the regulation is intended to increase the transparency of its guidance practices and improve the process used to manage its guidance documents. The final rule will be effective 30 days after the publication in the Federal Register. Further details and a Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) commentary are available here.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 24, 2020, EPA announced the 2020 Safer Choice Partner of the Year award winners. EPA recognized 18 Safer Choice Partner of the Year award winners across ten states and the District of Columbia for achievement in the design, manufacture, selection, and use of products with safer chemicals that further outstanding or innovative source reduction. EPA states that the Safer Choice program helps consumers and purchasers for facilities, such as schools and office buildings, find products that perform and are safer for human health and the environment. According to EPA, the 2020 Partner of the Year award winners represent businesses, including woman-owned and small- and medium-sized; federal and local government; and associations. The following organizations from eight EPA regions are being awarded this year:

  • Apple -- Cupertino, California;
  • BASF Home Care and I&I Cleaning Solutions -- Florham Park, New Jersey;
  • Berkley Green -- Uniontown, Pennsylvania;
  • The Clorox Company -- Oakland, California;
  • Defunkify -- Eugene, Oregon;
  • DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences -- Palo Alto, California;
  • ECOS -- Cypress, California;
  • Grove Collaborative -- San Francisco, California;
  • Hazardous Waste Management Program -- King County, Washington;
  • Household & Commercial Products Association -- Washington, D.C.;
  • Jelmar, LLC -- Skokie, Illinois;
  • Lemi Shine -- Austin, Texas;
  • Naval Supply Systems Command Weapons System Support -- Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania;
  • PROSOCO -- Lawrence, Kansas;
  • PurposeBuilt Brands -- Gurnee, Illinois;
  • Sea Mar Community Health Centers -- Seattle, Washington;
  • Seventh Generation -- Burlington, Vermont; and
  • Wegmans Food Markets -- Rochester, New York.

More information is available on EPA’s website.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 10, 2020, DOE, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and the U.S. Department of State announced the launch of the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries (FCAB). FCAB was formed to accelerate the development of a secure, robust, domestic industrial base for advanced batteries. It provides a framework for cooperation and coordination among federal agencies that have a stake in developing such battery technology and establishing a domestic supply of lithium batteries.

Tags: DOD, DOC, DOE, Batteries

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 29, 2020, EPA announced that it has submitted for review and approval an information collection request (ICR) on Anaerobic Digestion Facilities Processing Wasted Food to Support EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program and Sustainable Management of Food Efforts to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). EPA’s Federal Register notice proposes the renewal of a previous ICR, which is currently approved through September 30, 2020. EPA had previously requested comments on this ICR in June and is now extending the comment period by an additional 30 days. Public comments are due on or prior to October 29, 2020.

Tags: Biofuel, EPA

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 23, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives agreed by a record vote of 229-187 to the passing of a bill titled “Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act.” The bill aims to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy to address climate change. The Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act creates R&D programs to reduce fossil fuel production through various energy sources. It also incentivizes innovation through grant programs in energy efficiency, clean transportation, grid modernization, and workforce development.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 21, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service announced that it is soliciting applications for funds available under the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (the Program) to provide guaranteed loans to fund the construction, development, and retrofitting of commercial-scale biorefineries and of biobased product manufacturing facilities. Biorefineries applying must use eligible technology, and biobased product manufacturing facilities must use technologically new commercial-scale processing and manufacturing equipment to convert renewable chemicals and other biobased outputs of biorefineries into end-user products on a commercial scale.

USDA will accept applications during two separate cycles, which have application closing dates of 4:30 p.m. (EDT) October 1, 2020, and 4:30 p.m. (EDT) April 1, 2021. Applications and forms can be obtained from:

  • USDA, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Program Processing Division, Attention: Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 5801-S, Washington, DC 20250-3225.

Of particular interest to USDA are applications that support recommendations made in the Rural Prosperity Task Force report to help improve life in rural America. Applicants are encouraged by USDA to provide measurable results in rural communities’ assistance to build sustainable and robust economies through: strategic investments in infrastructure, partnerships, and innovation. Key strategies outlined by USDA include:

  • Achieving e-connectivity for rural America;
  • Developing the rural economy;
  • Harnessing technological innovation;
  • Improving quality of life; and
  • Supporting a rural workforce.

 
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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.
Tags: ELI, Election

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

DOE has announced that the Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (BERAC) will host digital public meetings on October 22 and 23, 2020, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. (EDT). BERAC provides advice to DOE’s Director of the Office of Science on scientific and technical issues that arise in the development and implementation of the Biological and Environmental Research Program. Tentative agenda topics published in the Federal Register notice include:

  • BERAC business and discussion;
  • News from the Office of Biological and Environmental Research;
  • Report briefs; and
  • News from the Biological Systems Science and Earth and Environmental Systems Science Divisions.

Oral comments will be permitted during the meetings, and written statements can be submitted prior to or after the meetings. Those interested in making oral statements regarding any agenda items must request so via e-mail at least five business days prior to the meeting.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On October 15, 2020, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. (EDT), ELI will hold a virtual award ceremony to honor Denis Hayes, an environmental activist and promoter of solar energy. Prior to the ceremony, a networking reception is scheduled on the same day from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. (EDT), where attendees will have access to environmental professionals from across the United States and around the globe. Parties interested in attending one or both events can register here.

Tags: ELI, Award

 
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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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