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 Kathleen M. Roberts

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard [RFS] Program: Standards for 2018 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2019 proposed rule.  The hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. on August 1, 2017, and will provide an opportunity for EPA to gather data, views, and arguments on the proposed rulemaking from interested stakeholders.  While EPA does not plan to respond to presentations, the Agency may ask clarifying questions.  EPA intends to use the information to inform a future rulemaking to reset the statutory volumes for cellulosic, advanced, and total biofuels pursuant to the Clean Air Act.  In resetting the mandatory biofuel production requirements under the RFS program, EPA will need to review the implementation of the program during previous years and coordinate with the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Agriculture.  Factors that EPA must consider in its analysis include:

  • The impact of renewable fuels on the environment; 
  • The impact of the fuels on energy security; 
  • Production rates of fuels;
  • Economic impacts of fuels; and
  • The impact of renewable fuel on U.S. infrastructure. 

Stakeholders interested in testifying during the hearing should contact Julia MacAllister (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) by July 25, 2017.

Tags: EPA, RFS, Hearing

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 17, 2017, the U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that $40 million in Department of Energy (DOE) awards will be used to establish four DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC) to be led by a DOE National Laboratory or top university.  Each BRC will focus on laying the scientific groundwork for a new biobased economy by providing scientific breakthroughs for a new generation of sustainable, cost-effective bioproducts and bioenergy.   The following BRCs were selected based on an open competition with external peer review:   

  • The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with Michigan State University;
  • The Center for Bioenergy Innovation, led by DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory; 
  • The Joint BioEnergy Institute, led by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and
  • The Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation, led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
While the $40 million in funding will be used to establish the centers in 2018, an additional five years of funding is anticipated.  The current funding represents a follow-on phase to the original DOE BRC program, which consisted of three BRCs.  The new phase will build and expand on the accomplishments of the original BRC breakthroughs and incorporate an additional BRC.

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 11, 2017, DOE announced the selection of three projects focused on reducing the costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts that will receive up to $8 million in funding.    The projects aim to generate high-impact tools and techniques for increasing the productivity of algae organisms and cultures and biology-focused breakthroughs.  The project winners include:

  • Lumen Bioscience, which will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on the agricultural production of algae on otherwise non-productive land in rural eastern Washington State by rapidly engineering strains that grow robustly in seawater, resist contamination and predation, and accumulate substantial amounts of energy-rich components;
  • Global Algae Innovations, which will work in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, University of California at San Diego – Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the J. Craig Venter Institute to deliver a tool for low cost, rapid analysis of pond microbiota, gather data on the impacts of pond ecology, and develop new cultivation methods that utilize this information to achieve greater algal productivity; and
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory, which will work with Sapphire Energy to help the algal research and development community better understand these metrics at commercial scales by evaluating rationally designed pond cultures containing multiple species of algae, as well as beneficial bacteria, to achieve consistent biomass composition and high productivity.

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

Renewable Industries Canada (RICanada), a principal stakeholder representing Canadian producers of clean-burning renewable fuels, announced that the Quebec Government’s 2017-2020 Action Plan under the 2030 Energy Policy included, for the first time, renewable fuel volume requirements for fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.  The renewable fuel blending requirement was set at 5% for gasoline and 2% diesel and is expected to increase after 2020.  RICanada stated that the “announcement on renewable transportation fuels further entrenches Quebec’s position as a leader in the production of renewable energy and in the broader battle against climate change” and that its “members look forward to helping the Government of Quebec ensure that the province’s GHG targets in the transportation sector are achieved.”  More information on the Action Plan for Energy Policy 2030 is available on the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources website.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 11, 2017, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) issued its June Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).  EIA considered EPA’s recent rulemakings on the 2017 RFS volume requirements and proposed 2018 RFS volume requirements when developing its STEO for 2017 and 2018
 
Biodiesel production averaged 101,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2016, and, according to EIA, is expected to increase to an average of 105,000 b/d in 2017 and to 109,000 b/d in 2018.  Biomass-based diesel imports are expected to fall from 54,000 b/d in 2016 to 53,000 b/d in 2017 but rise to 59,000 b/d in 2018.
 
Ethanol production averaged 1.0 million b/d in 2016 and is expected to average slightly above 1.0 million b/d in 2017, which would be a record, but will likely decline slightly in 2018.  Ethanol consumption averaged about 940,000 b/d in 2016 and is forecast to increase slightly in 2017 and 2018.  As a result, the ethanol share of the total gasoline pool will increase to nearly 10.1% in both 2017 and 2018.  Only marginal increases in higher-level ethanol blends are assumed to occur during the STEO forecast period.


 
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The BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology will take place on July 23-26, 2017, at the Palais des congrès de Montréal.  Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) will co-host a Bioeconomy Leaders and Innovators Reception with Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C. from 6:00-7:30 p.m. on July 25, 2017.  Enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while engaging with colleagues to exchange ideas and explore the prospect of establishing new partnerships.  Christine Lhulier, Corporate Counsel for DuPont Industrial Biosciences, will participate in a brief question and answer (Q&A) session to initiate dialog for the evening.  Register for the reception
 
Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Senior Chemist with B&C, and Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D., Manager of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), will be attending the conference and will be pleased to discuss questions attendees may have about their own biotechnology products. 

We look forward to seeing you there! 


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 29, 2017, Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Linda Sánchez (D-CA) introduced the Renewable Chemicals Act of 2017 to the House.  If enacted, the legislation would create a targeted, short-term tax credit for the production of qualifying renewable chemicals from biomass and for investments in renewable chemical production facilities.  The tax credit would be provided based on job creation, innovation, environmental benefits, commercial viability, and contribution to U.S. energy independence.  Numerous industry stakeholders, including the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Renmatix, and DSM, praised the proposed legislation. 


 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On July 5, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for 2018, as well as biomass-based diesel for 2019.  The proposal lowers the blending requirement for all renewable fuel with the exception of biomass-based diesel, which maintains the 2017 blending requirement.  The proposed volume requirements are:

Cellulosic biofuel, from 311 million gallons in 2017 to 238 million gallons in 2018;
Advanced biofuel, from 4.28 billion gallons in 2017 to 4.24 billion gallons in 2018;
Renewable fuel, from 19.28 billion gallons in 2017 to 19.24 billion gallons in 2018; and
Biomass-based diesel, 2.1 billion gallons in 2018 and 2019.


These volumes would set the percentage standards at 0.131 percent for cellulosic biofuel, 2.34 percent for advanced biofuel, 10.62 percent for renewable fuel, and 1.74 percent for biomass-based diesel.  The proposed rule will be open for comment for 45 days following the official publication in the Federal Register.

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel, 2018

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 30, 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) released the final version of its report Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology, which is the result of a collaboration by a committee of experts convened by NAS.  The report provides an overview of the committee’s discussion on “the future products of biotechnology that are likely to appear on the horizon, the challenges that the regulatory agencies might face, and the opportunities for enhancing the regulatory system to be prepared for what might be coming.”  The committee reached consensus on its conclusions and recommendations regarding actions that can be taken to enhance the capabilities of the biotechnology regulatory system to prepare for the anticipated future of biotechnology products, which are also presented in the report.
 
More information on the NAS report is available in the Biobased and Renewable Product Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post “NAS Releases Final Report on Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology.”


 
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The BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology takes place July 23-26, 2017, at the Palais des congrès de Montréal.  Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) will co-host a Bioeconomy Leaders and Innovators Reception with Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C. from 6:00-7:30 p.m. on July 25, 2017.  Enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while engaging with colleagues to exchange ideas and explore the prospect of establishing new partnerships.  Christine Lhulier, Corporate Counsel for DuPont Industrial Biosciences, will participate in a brief question and answer (Q&A) session to initiate dialog for the evening. Register for the reception
 
Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Senior Chemist with B&C, and Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D., Manager of BRAG, will be attending the conference and will be pleased to discuss questions attendees may have about their own biotechnology products. 
 
We look forward to seeing you there!


 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On June 30, 3017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) released its final version of its report Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology, which it states “analyzes the future landscape of biotechnology products and seeks to inform forthcoming policy making [and] … identifies potential new risks and frameworks for risk assessment and areas in which the risks or lack of risks relating to the products of biotechnology are well understood.”  This report is a collaboration among a committee of experts including the Committee on Future Biotechnology Products and Opportunities to Enhance Capabilities of the Biotechnology Regulatory System (Committee), the Board on Life Sciences, the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology, and the Division on Earth and Life Studies and sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Lynn L. Bergeson was an external contributor to the Committee’s deliberations and presented before the Committee on the subject of the biotechnology regulatory system.  

The report includes sections on emerging trends and products of biotechnology; the current biotechnology regulatory system; understanding risks related to future biotechnology products; opportunities to enhance the capabilities of the biotechnology regulatory system; and an index on congressionally defined product categories that FDA regulates; as well as conclusions and recommendations that were included in our blog item on the prepublication version.

More information on the regulatory issues of biotechnology products is available on our biobased products blog under key word biotechnology, as well as the Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) regulatory developments website under key phrase biobased products, biotechnology.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 21, 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that 32 small businesses across 18 states will receive a total of $32 million in grants to develop clean energy technologies that have a strong potential for commercialization and job creation.  The funding was provided by DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.  The 32 projects were selected based on scientific and technical merit, as well as the commercial potential of the project.  Seven of the 32 proposed projects involve technology for bioenergy and biobased production, specifically:

  • Shockkwave, LLC received $1,000,000 to increase production of domestic, low greenhouse gas biofuel by harvesting corn fiber from corn grain to produce cellulosic biofuels;
  • Mainstream Engineering Corporation received $999,993 to improve the oil yield and reduce aqueous byproducts during hydrothermal liquefaction of wet wastes;
  • BioHybrid Solutions LLC received $995,569 to make biodiesel a cost-effective, sustainable fuel by using new polymer-modified enzyme to convert efficiently cheap and renewable feedstocks into an inexpensive, high-quality biodiesel;
  • CF Technologies, Inc. received $999,997 to convert rancid, no-value, environmentally adverse brown grease into a high quality, valued biodiesel fuel;
  • Sironix Renewables received $1,000,000 to implement a new catalyst technology that produces a new class of detergent molecules from renewable sources that are superior and cheaper than current detergents, enabling detergent formulations with higher concentrations, which reduces chemical environmental impact and manufacturing and transportation energy consumption;
  • MOgene Green Chemicals received $1,000,000 to develop a sustainable, biobased biocatalyst to capture methane, carbon dioxide, and other trace gases present in biogas or natural gas sources and convert them into high value products; and
  • NexTech Materials, Ltd. received $1,000,000 to create new catalysts that will allow more efficient generation of fuels from biogas.

More information on the recipients is available at the DOE Office of Science website.


 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On June 20, 2017, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) announced that nearly 100 biodiesel advocates from across the country visited Capitol Hill to urge Congress to bring back the biodiesel tax incentive as proposed in both chambers of Congress.  Industry participants consisted of biodiesel producers, distributors, and feedstock suppliers from over 24 states.  According to Anne Steckel, the Vice President of Federal Affairs at NBB, the bipartisan biodiesel tax incentive should be reinstated since it helps support tens of thousands of jobs nationwide and the proposed reforms address the unintended consequences of the credit.  The legislative proposals in Congress restructure the incentive so that U.S. producers qualify for the credit, which cuts off subsidies for foreign manufacturing and reduces the potential for tax fraud.

Tags: NBB, Biodiesel, Tax

 
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