Genomatica and Renmatix have been selected as winners of the 2014 Bloomberg New Energy Pioneers Award for developing process technologies to produce widely-used renewable chemicals. A copy of Genomatica's press release on the award is available online. More information about the annual Bloomberg New Energy Pioneers Award is available at www.newenergypioneers.com.
On April 3, 2014, the Senate Committee on Finance marked up its version of a tax extenders package, the "Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act." The EXPIRE Act includes extensions through December 31, 2015 (and retroactive to January 1, 2014) of the following key biofuels incentives that have expired: the Alternative Fuel Refueling Property Credit; the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit; the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property; the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit; and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit. A copy of the EXPIRE Act is available online. A summary of the bill is available online.
On April 3, 2014, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW Committee) marked up S.1961, the "Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act." Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the EPW Committee, and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced the bill following the January 9, 2014, chemical spill in West Virginia that left thousands without drinking water for days. The bill would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) by adding "Part G -- Protection of Surface Water from Contamination by Chemical Storage Facilities." The bill is intended to strengthen states' ability to prevent chemical spills such as that of January 9, 2014. A fact sheet regarding the bill is available online.
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) has issued a memorandum providing an overview of the new bill. The memorandum is available online.
On March 28, 2014, Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Steve Womack (R-AR), and Peter Welch (D-VT) sent a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy with targeted questions related to the implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The four Members of Congress all believe the RFS is not working in its current form. Last fall, they introduced H.R. 1462, the "RFS Reform Act," which eliminates corn-based ethanol requirements, limits the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at ten percent, and requires EPA to set accurately the annual cellulosic renewable volume obligations (RVO) at actual production levels.
In their letter, which followed a recent meeting with Administrator McCarthy, the Representatives reiterated their position that the RFS is not working given current market conditions. They also asked six questions to inquire about EPA's ability and willingness to reduce annual RVOs. A copy of the letter is available online.
On April 1, 2014, the University of Delaware announced that the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI), a U.S. Department of Energy-Energy Frontier Research Center, has entered a two-year program with ExxonMobil. The research initiative will focus on converting lignocellulosic biomass to polymers that are identical to existing petrochemical products. A copy of the press release is available online.
On March 31, 2014, Amyris, a chemical company headquartered in California, announced that it was expanding its collaboration with Kuraray to develop and commercialize high performance materials from Biofene®, Amyris' brand of renewable farnesene. Amyris CEO John Melo stated that he expects Biofene® to play a critical role in the sustainability of the tire industry. A copy of Amyris' press release is available online.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it will take approximately the next six months to evaluate and improve the petition process for new fuel pathways under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Every producer that wants their renewable fuel to qualify under the RFS must have its fuel pathway, including feedstock and technology process, approved by EPA. EPA intends to make the process more efficient and transparent, and thereby reduce the amount of time it takes to make determinations on new fuel pathway petitions. The Agency also intends to develop and issue improved guidance for petitioners, and to have a more automated review process for petitions using previously approved feedstocks and well known production process technologies.
EPA suggests that parties intending to submit new fuel pathway petitions wait to do so until after the Agency issues its new guidance. EPA will continue to review petitions currently under review, but will prioritize them based on the following criteria:
* Ability to contribute to the cellulosic biofuel mandate.
* Potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a per gallon basis, for example by using feedstocks that likely do not have significant indirect land use change emissions (such as non-food feedstocks).
* Ability to contribute to near-term increases in renewable fuel use. This criterion would include, for example, consideration of the ability of the intended biofuel product to be readily incorporated into the existing fuel distribution network.
This review comes after years of criticism that the petition process for new fuel pathway approvals under the RFS takes too long and impedes progress of projects that could produce fuels that meet the annual RFS volumetric requirements. Some companies have been waiting for over two years for EPA's determination on their petitions.
On March 24, 2014, seven leading biofuel trade associations sent a letter to Senate Committee on Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) -- as the Committee works to develop a tax extenders bill -- urging the retroactive extension of the following biofuel incentives, which expired on December 31, 2013: the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit. A copy of the letter is available online.
The letter stresses that the advanced biofuels industry is at a critical stage of development and is a critical innovation sector that depends on the incentives and their stability for continued development. It also points out that the continued availability of the tax credits is needed to continue to attract development of advanced biofuels and their associated jobs in the U.S.
On March 20, 2014, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), which represent the ethanol industry, and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), along with the American Trucking Association and the Consumer Energy Alliance, filed petitions for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court to make a final determination on the constitutionality of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).
The groups are challenging the January 2014 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (the Ninth Circuit) to deny rehearing en banc in Rocky Mountain Farmer's Union v. Corey. On September 18, 2013, the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion in Rocky Mountain Farmer's Union v. Corey reversing a lower court opinion which found that the LCFS violated the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against ethanol produced outside of California. The LCFS assigns higher carbon intensity values to ethanol produced in the Midwest than in California. The press releases of Growth Energy and RFA (joint) and AFPM are available here and here.
One of the goals of the LCFS is to reduce the carbon content of transportation fuel by ten percent by 2020. It is significant to the biofuels industry, especially since several other states are considering similar programs and look to California's LCFS as an example.
We are very pleased to announce some of the speakers who are scheduled to participate in the session the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG™) is hosting May 13, 2014, at BIO World Congress, titled "Commercializing Renewable Chemicals and Biobased Products: The Importance of Successfully and Efficiently Navigating the Regulatory Process":
* Tracy Williamson, Ph.D., Chief, Industrial Chemistry Branch, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, EPA;
* David Widawsky, Ph.D., Director -- Economics, Exposure, and Technology Division of EPA and Manager of the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards; and
* Frank Pacholec, Ph.D., Vice President, R&D/Corporate Sustainability Officer, Stepan Company (Stepan).
Through presentations and panel discussion, this session will fully inform, equip, and assist renewable chemical producers in finding the path of least resistance on the road to commercialization. Topics to be discussed include:
* Overview of the 90-day EPA new chemical notification review process;
* Filling out the Pre-manufacture Notification (PMN) form -- Top Ten Mistakes and How to Avoid Them;
* Challenges posed by chemical identity/nomenclature under U.S. and European Union (EU) law; and
* Leveraging successfully pollution prevention benefits.
The BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology is the world's largest industrial biotechnology event for business leaders, investors, and policy makers in biofuels, biobased products, and renewable chemicals. The congress takes place May 12 - 15, 2014, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Early bird registration ends March 31, 2014. Information and registration is available online.
Advanced process technologies provider Johnson Matthey Davy Technologies Ltd. (JM Davy) and renewable specialty chemical company Rennovia, Inc. have announced that they are teaming up to develop, demonstrate, and commercialize catalytic process technologies for the production of biobased glucaric acid and adipic acid. According to Rennovia's press release, "nder the collaboration, Rennovia and JM Davy will work together to develop and demonstrate the processes based on Rennovia's technology for the catalytic aerobic oxidation of glucose to glucaric acid, as well as the catalytic hydrogenation of glucaric acid to adipic acid. The goal of the collaboration is to develop and jointly license a technology package enabling commercial production of these chemical products." A copy of the press release is available online.
On March 24, 2014, Royal DSM announced that "its bio-based high performance EcoPaXX® polyamide 410 has been selected by Dytech-Dynamic Fluid Technologies for the fuel vapor separators it produces for Ferrari and Maserati sports cars. This solution, in halogen-free flame retardant EcoPaXX Q-KGS6, will increase the fire safety of the cars by combining flame retardancy with a high level of chemical resistance, essential for this application." A copy of the company's press release is available online.
On March 24, 2014, Stepan announced the launch of STEPOSOL® MET-10U, a novel surfactant derived from natural oils that is targeted to displace solvents. This is the first commercial product launched by Stepan as part of its joint development agreement with Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc. (Elevance) to develop and commercialize new surfactants and other products by combining Elevance's Inherent™ building blocks with Stepan's derivatization and application capabilities. Stepan's press release is available online.
The American Bar Association's (ABA) Section on Energy, Environment and Resources (SEER) has issued five white papers designed to assist stakeholders in the ongoing debate to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). The papers are on the following TSCA-related topics: (1) ABA SEER Overview of TSCA; (2) ABA SEER TSCA Trade Secret and Confidential Business Information Briefing Paper; (3) ABA SEER TSCA Preemption of Private Rights of Action Under TSCA and TSCA Legislation Briefing Paper; (4) ABA SEER TSCA Standard for Taking Regulatory Action under TSCA Briefing Paper; and (5) ABA SEER TSCA Preemption of State Laws and Regulations Briefing Paper. These white papers are available online.
The papers offer analysis of how TSCA reform may move forward in a way that marries the myriad of considerations of existing case law, state laws and regulations, and federal legislation. Lynn L. Bergeson, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a co-author of each paper.
On March 13, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a pre-rule notice to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on "Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Mixtures." This action shows that EPA is moving forward on a rulemaking under TSCA Sections 8(a) and 8(d) to obtain data on chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is a process used in oil and gas production.
EPA explained in the Fall 2013 Unified Agenda that although the Agency "has granted the petitioners' request to initiate a rulemaking proceeding under TSCA sections 8(a) and 8(d), the Agency is not committing to a specific rulemaking outcome. EPA intends to first develop an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) and initiate a stakeholder process to provide input on the design and scope of the TSCA reporting requirements that would be included in a proposed rule. EPA anticipates that States, industry, public interest groups, and members of the public will be participants in the process. The stakeholder process will bring stakeholders together to discuss the information needs and help EPA to ensure any reporting burdens and costs are minimized, ensuring information already available is considered in order to avoid duplication of efforts. The dialogue will also assist EPA in determining how information that is claimed Confidential Business Information could be aggregated and disclosed to maximize transparency and public understanding." The pre-rule notice, including links to EPA's statements on the subject in 2012 and 2013 Unified Agendas, is available online.