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 12, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Phase I Release 1 funding opportunity for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. In its announcement, DOE encourages small businesses with strong research capabilities in science or engineering to apply. DOE’s Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) includes participation from its Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Basic Energy Sciences, Biological and Environmental Research, and Nuclear Physics program offices. On August 19, 2019, DOE will host a webinar to provide an overview of the SBIR/STTR technology areas, application process, and award process. Interested parties can register for the webinar here. Additional important dates are listed below.

  • September 3, 2019 -- Letters of Intent (LOI) Due
     
  • September 24, 2019 -- Non-responsive LOI Feedback Provided
     
  • October 15, 2019 -- Full Applications Due
     
  • January 6, 2020 -- Award Notification
     
  • February 18, 2020 -- Project Grant Start Date

The full FOA and its topics can be accessed on DOE’s Office of Science webpage.

Tags: DOE, SBIR, Funding

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 9, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a report on its compliance with the law titled EPA Exceeded the Deregulatory Goals of Executive Order 13771. Executive Order 13771, titled Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, includes regulatory savings goals for FYs 2017 and 2018, EPA’s deregulatory actions, and its compliance with the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) goal-setting requirements. EO 13771 was issued to manage costs associated with existing and new regulations established by federal agencies. Commonly referred to as the “two-for-one” EO, it required that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination.” The report addresses EPA’s regulatory compliance with the aforementioned EO, stating that “in FYs 2017 and 2018, the EPA exceeded its deregulatory expectations” and exceeded the savings goal as well. EPA clearly adds in the report that it did not develop internal guidance or management controls to implement the EO. Instead, EPA relied solely on OMB guidance. In the report, EPA recommends the enhancement of transparency regarding EO 13771 decision-making and outreach.

Tags: EPA, OIG

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 2, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced via the Federal Register the rates for biosimilar user fees for FY 2020. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) authorizes FDA to assess and collect user fees for certain activities in connection with biosimilar biological product development; review of certain applications for approval of biosimilar biological products; and each biosimilar biological product approved in an application. The established fees will apply to the period from October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 18, 2019, the D.C. Women’s Business Center (WBC) and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) will host the 2019 Just Ambitious Small Business Awards. The awards honor woman entrepreneurs who have demonstrated achievements, innovation, and vision in support of the District of Columbia’s small business community and economic vitality. WBC and NCRC are now accepting applications for the 2019 awards in the following categories:

  • NCRC Community Engagement of the Year
     
  • NCRC Youth Entrepreneur of the Year
     
  • Environmental Entrepreneur of the Year
     
  • Start-Up of the Year
     
  • Veteran Woman-Owned Business of the Year
     
  • Woman Empowerment Entrepreneur of the Year
     
  • Womanpreneur Under 40 of the Year

Businesses can be nominated for multiple awards. WBC and NCRC encourage self-nominations. To qualify for the award, applicants must either be or nominate a registered business entity that has been in business for at least one full year. The business must be at least 51 percent woman-owned. Non-profits that devote a significant portion of time to assisting entrepreneurs may also apply. The deadline for application submissions is September 4, 2019, by close of business.


 
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Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a proud sponsor of the Environmental Law Institute’s (ELI) GreenTech Conference, bringing together leaders from some of the world’s most innovative companies to engage with policymakers, lawmakers, technologists, and non-governmental organizations (NGO) to explore environmental protection in an era of transformative technological change. Dr. Andrey J. Zarur, CEO and President of GreenLight Biosciences, will discuss using targeted biocontrol of RNA interference to increase yields during the Food for the Future panel on October 2, 2019. Join B&C, ELI, Intel, Amazon, and Google, among others, in Seattle, Washington, from October 2-3, 2019, for this exciting conference.


 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 1, 2019, that it is making additional information about new chemical notices available on its website.  The new web page, “Statistics for the New Chemicals Review Program under TSCA,” allows users to view and search monthly updates for any active Premanufacture Notice (PMN), Significant New Use Notice (SNUN), and Microbial Commercial Activity Notice (MCAN) of interest by case number.  Users can also download a spreadsheet with a list of all active cases and each case’s status.
 
As reported in Bergeson & Campbell, L.L.C.’s (B&C) May 16, 2019, TSCA blog item, “EPA Updates Its New Chemical Statistics Web Page to Increase Transparency,” EPA previously presented only the number of cases in each step of the review process without identifying case numbers.  According to EPA, this enhancement supplements the existing status tables describing the received date, the interim status, and final determinations for each case reviewed by EPA since the amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) were passed in 2016.  The update also supports EPA’s ongoing efforts to review new chemicals submissions more efficiently “by proactively providing status updates to submitters.”  EPA notes that the tool will continue to keep confidential business information confidential. B&C has prepared a memorandum on EPA’s new web page, which can be accessed here.

Tags: TSCA

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 29, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that $50 million of funding is now available for innovative research of technologies for trucks, off-road vehicles, and gaseous fuels research. Funded through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), “it is important our trucking industry has access to advanced technologies, such as electrification and fuel cells, as a way to move goods efficiently and economically,” stated Mark W. Menezes, Under Secretary of Energy. Given EERE’s successful track record in research and development (R&D) investments, this new funding opportunity reflects DOE’s continued push for gaseous fuels research, including natural gas, biopower, and hydrogen, as well as heavy-duty freight electrification and energy-efficient off-road vehicles. According to DOE, energy use by medium- and heavy-duty trucks consumes 25 percent of U.S. annual vehicle fuel use. Off-road vehicles account for 8 percent of the total energy consumed in the U.S. transportation sector. Emphasizing the importance of economic growth through the movement of goods, this funding opportunity is how DOE begins to prepare for a future where miles traveled by the freight sector will increase by 54 percent by 2050.

Tags: DOE, EERE

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

On July 26, 2019, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) announced that he is working with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on the Restore Environmental Sustainability to Our Renewable Energy (RESTORE) Act. In an effort to end what Toomey describes as an “egregious form of corporate welfare that hurts the environment and drives up the cost of everything,” the RESTORE Act would abolish the corn ethanol mandate under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Toomey further argues that, because the RFS forces drivers to purchase billions of gallons of corn ethanol annually, it also harms the environment and causes prices to rise, not only of gasoline, but also of damaged engines and groceries. Calling for a phaseout of the ethanol mandate, the RESTORE Act focuses on transitioning to advanced, lower carbon fuels for the country’s transportation needs.
 
The RESTORE Act is not Toomey’s and Feinstein’s first attempt to abolish the corn ethanol mandate. In 2015, Feinstein and Toomey offered an amendment to the Keystone pipeline bill that would have repealed the corn ethanol mandate under RFS: the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015. This Feinstein-Toomey amendment suggested the same modifications the RESTORE Act now proposes and the language used to describe the need for these changes is similar in both Toomey’s July 2019 and Feinstein’s 2015 announcements. Using the exact same arguments that were used in 2015, the RESTORE Act demonstrates Toomey and Feinstein’s determination to abolish the corn ethanol mandate.

Tags: Biofuel, RFS

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 6, 2019, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced four grants aiming to expand biofuel access and production to advance the state’s renewable energy efforts. Awarded to four recipients by MDA’s Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) Program, the grants total more than $500,000. One Bioenergy/Biochemical Pilot Project Grant was awarded, providing funding to advance bioenergy and biochemical production technology to a commercial scale. Three Biofuel Blending Infrastructure Grants were awarded to expand the use of blending infrastructure equipment in Minnesota.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 6, 2019, the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) announced its partnership with The Power for America Training Trust Fund (P4A) for the launch of a renewable energy specialist apprenticeship program. Certified by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the program aims at assisting individuals with a path to employment for highly demanded jobs in the renewable energy sector. Under this program, individuals will be taught specialized skills in the fields of solar generation, battery storage, and offshore and onshore wind. An earn-while-you-learn program, this two-and-a-half-year apprenticeship guarantees participants a job with a Michigan-based company. P4A is currently looking for more companies with which to form partnerships.

Tags: DOL

 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 25, 2019, U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) introduced the Zero Waste Act, which intends to create a federal grant program to invest in solutions that address waste. The bill, if passed, will go towards recycling infrastructure or the creation of partnerships with local businesses focused on waste reduction. Representative Omar believes the bill will not only create jobs, but also reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, grow domestic manufacturing, clean waterways, save energy, ensure safety from health hazards, and grow the U.S. economy. Omar’s bill has been endorsed by several organizations, including the City of Minneapolis, Eureka Recycling, Climate Generation, and Surfrider Foundation, among others. Presenting this bill through the lens that waste is an environmental justice issue, Representative Omar stated that “[a]ddressing the waste crisis is critical to preventing further damage to our climate—it is integral to racial justice and a clean, equitable future.” At a time where climate change debates have been of high interest to the U.S. population, in particular as the presidential candidate debates continue, it will be interesting to see whether this bill is passed. The full text of the bill can be accessed here.

Tags: House, Climate

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

On July 25, 2019, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) hosted a webinar titled “New TSCA at 3: Key Implementation Issues” led by B&C’s Managing Partner, Lynn L. Bergeson. Webinar speakers included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Assistant Administrator, Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, and B&C’s Director of Chemistry and former EPA staff, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D. Assistant Administrator Dunn’s presentation outlined EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) accomplishments and priorities three years after the amendment of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Some of the most recent accomplishments highlighted by Assistant Administrator Dunn included OCSPP’s update to the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory in designating substances as “active” in commerce, the selection of the first 40 chemicals for prioritization, and consumer protection measures, among others. In addition, Dunn also highlighted OCSPP’s priorities for the future implementation of TSCA:

  • Publication of the draft dossiers for substances designated as high- and low-priority in the Federal Register for public comment expected as follows:
     
    • Early August 2019, for low-priority substances; and
       
    • End of August 2019, for high-priority substances;
       
  • Initiation of the risk evaluations on the 20 high-priority chemicals and designation of the 20 low-priority chemicals by December 22, 2019; and
     
  • Issue of draft scopes for public comment prior to issuing statutorily required final scopes six months after initiating the risk evaluation.

Assistant Administrator Dunn’s remarks also included EPA’s efforts for increased transparency through the publishing of information about new chemicals’ TSCA Confidential Business Information (CBI) claim reviews, which began in early July 2019. Bergeson and Engler commended Dunn’s efforts in implementing TSCA, and especially EPA’s efforts in increasing new chemical transparency. Engler urged businesses submitting new chemical notices to EPA to review carefully its submission prior to providing it to EPA to ensure that no CBI is made publicly available when new chemical notices are published. Following these discussions, questions from webinar attendees were accepted until the very last minute of the webinar. The full recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

Tags: EPA, TSCA, Webinar

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 29, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the winners of the American Inventions Made Onshore (AIM Onshore) Prize Competition. Opened in 2018, this competition was an initiative aimed at closing the gap between American innovators who develop new energy technologies and manufacturers who produce them. Selected among four finalists, two winners were awarded for their innovative proposals. In first place was Fuzehub, awarded $250,000, and in second place was ADL Ventures, awarded $100,000. Fuzehub is a non-profit organization in New York that connects the State’s small and mid-sized manufacturing companies with resources, programs, and technology and business growth expertise. ADL Ventures develops and deploys emerging technology-enabled business solutions for legacy sector companies.

Tags: DOE, EERE

 
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