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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On May 21, 2014, Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (REG), a leading U.S. biodiesel producer, and Tyson Foods, Inc. (Tyson) announced that they have agreed to REG's acquisition of Tyson's 50 percent ownership position in Dynamic Fuels, LLC (Dynamic Fuels). Contingent upon the closing of REG's December 2013 announced agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Syntroleum Corporation (Syntroleum), the acquisition announced on May 21, 2014, would give REG full ownership of Dynamic Fuels and its 75 million gallon per year nameplate capacity renewable diesel biorefinery in Geismar, Louisiana. Tyson and Syntroleum formed Dynamic Fuels in 2007 as a 50/50 joint venture. A copy of REG's press release on the announcement is available online.


 
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Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) advocacy is continuing at a steady pace in anticipation of the expected imminent release of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 2014 final RFS rule. Some biofuels advocates believe that they are making an impact with their stepped-up advocacy, as they believe the Administration will adjust the total renewable and advanced biofuel targets upwards from its proposed reductions to those categories of renewable fuels. The final rule is expected to be issued in June 2014.


On May 8, 2014, nine members of the pro-biofuels Fuels America coalition sent a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to reconsider EPA's proposed reductions to the total renewable and advanced biofuels targets in the 2014 RFS rule. The Fuels America coalition does not believe that it is necessary to make any legislative changes to the RFS. A copy of the letter is Tags: RFS


 
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On May 7, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Inspector General (IG), Gregory H. Friedman, issued an audit report on "Implementation of Recommendations from the January 2012 Independent Consultant's Review of the Department of Energy Loan and Loan Guarantee Portfolio." A copy of the report is available online.


In the fall of 2011, following the high-profile bankruptcies of alternative energy companies that had received DOE loan guarantees, including Solyndra, Inc. (Solyndra) and Beacon Power, LLC, the White House requested an independent review of the DOE loan guarantee program for alternative energy. In January 2012, that Independent Consultant issued his report, including 12 recommendations for improving the administration of the DOE loan guarantee program. The current IG report assesses whether the DOE implemented those recommendations.


The IG found that DOE had either made constructive changes pursuant to the recommendations, or had sufficient reasons explaining why it had not yet implemented them. In addition, the IG makes several suggestions to improve the program further.


This report is positive for the DOE loan guarantee program for alternative energy, as it is important that DOE appears responsive to the Independent Consultant's recommendations for improving its administration. The loan guarantees are among the few potential federal sources of funding for the development of biofuels. The program faced -- and is still recovering from -- significant public relations challenges following the announcement of Solyndra's bankruptcy. It provided, and continues to provide, program opponents with arguments against providing continued federal support for DOE loans and loan guarantees for alternative energy.
 

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On May 7, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Inspector General (IG), Gregory H. Friedman, issued an audit report on "Implementation of Recommendations from the January 2012 Independent Consultant's Review of the Department of Energy Loan and Loan Guarantee Portfolio." A copy of the report is available online.


In the fall of 2011, following the high-profile bankruptcies of alternative energy companies that had received DOE loan guarantees, including Solyndra, Inc. (Solyndra) and Beacon Power, LLC, the White House requested an independent review of the DOE loan guarantee program for alternative energy. In January 2012, that Independent Consultant issued his report, including 12 recommendations for improving the administration of the DOE loan guarantee program. The current IG report assesses whether the DOE implemented those recommendations.


The IG found that DOE had either made constructive changes pursuant to the recommendations, or had sufficient reasons explaining why it had not yet implemented them. In addition, the IG makes several suggestions to improve the program further.


This report is positive for the DOE loan guarantee program for alternative energy, as it is important that DOE appears responsive to the Independent Consultant's recommendations for improving its administration. The loan guarantees are among the few potential federal sources of funding for the development of biofuels. The program faced -- and is still recovering from -- significant public relations challenges following the announcement of Solyndra's bankruptcy. It provided, and continues to provide, program opponents with arguments against providing continued federal support for DOE loans and loan guarantees for alternative energy.
 

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Last week, Purdue University (Purdue) President Mitch Daniels, and U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), agreeing to work together on the development of alternative energy sources, including biofuels, for use by the U.S. Navy. As part of the agreement, Purdue has committed to establishing the Purdue Military Research Initiative. This initiative will cover the cost of graduate education for up to ten active duty members of the military pursuing studies in alternative energy, alternative fuels or energy efficient technologies.


This announcement furthers efforts made by the U.S. Navy in recent years to expand its use of alternative energy sources. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) entered into and has worked to implement an MOU with the DOE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide a collective $510 million toward the commercial development and availability of drop-in biofuels for military and commercial use. In addition, the U.S. Navy has developed goals to deploy a "Great Green Fleet" strike group of ships and aircraft running on alternative fuel blends by 2016 and to meet 50 percent of its energy consumption through the use of alternative sources by 2020.
 

 


 
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The 4th Annual Safer Consumer Products Summit was held May 6-8, 2014, in Santa Clara, California, and with the first draft Priority Products (PP) having been announced by California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) in March 2014, the regulators, manufacturers, brand owners, and retailers gathered for the Summit were able to engage in substantive and practical discussion and learn from case studies on California's implementation of the Safer Consumer Products Regulations (SCPR), the most expansive Green Chemistry law in the world. B&C was the Platinum sponsor of the Summit.


Summit Chair Lynn L. Bergeson introduced Meredith Williams, Ph.D., DTSC Deputy Director, who gave the Keynote Address. Dr. Williams discussed DTSC's decision-making process with regard to its three selections in its draft initial PP list (paint and varnish strippers, and surface cleaners containing methylene chloride; spray polyurethane foam systems containing unreacted diisocyanates; and children's foam-padded sleeping products containing tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP)) and other DTSC efforts, including its development of a work plan identifying potential future PPs and guidance for companies to prepare "Alternatives Analysis" assessments. DTSC also held on May 7, 2014, the first of three workshops related to its draft initial PPs. The other two workshops are scheduled for May 28, 2014, and June 4, 2014. B&C's memorandum on the draft PP list is available online.


Lisa R. Burchi, Of Counsel with B&C, moderated a panel discussion focused on the immediate challenges of complying with SCPR, including panelists from the consulting and legal community, as well as Chin Kuay, Senior Manager, Regulatory Compliance, Office Depot, and Mary-Ann Warmerdam, Regulatory Affairs Leader, Global Stewardship, The Clorox Company. The panel discussed immediate steps manufacturers and retailers are taking, how companies can prepare their long-lead-time products without knowing if or when they might be affected by a PP listing, and what steps companies should consider if there is confidential information they need to protect.


The afternoon session Keynote Address was made by Jim Jones, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), who provided an overview of the federal chemicals management program, and the many critically important initiatives that OCSPP is spearheading to give expression to the Obama Administration's commitment to improving chemical safety.


For copies of Dr. Williams', Mr. Jones', and other presentations made at the Summit please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
 


 
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On May 7, 2014, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on "Alternative Jet Fuels: Federal Activities Support Development and Usage, but Long-Term Commercial Viability Hinges on Market Factors." GAO found that [a]chieving price competitiveness for alternative jet fuels is the overarching challenge to developing a viable market." To this end, according to stakeholders consulted for the report, both federal activities -- including policy stability -- and market factors contribute to the ability of alternative jet fuels to be priced competitively with traditional jet fuels. A copy of the report is available online.


 
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On May 13, 2014, INVISTA and LanzaTech announced that they signed a research and development agreement to focus on the development of gas-fermentation process technology for the production of industrial chemicals from carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas (CO2 and H2) feedstocks. Warren Primeaux, President of INVISTA intermediates, explained that the agreement will "provide INVISTA increased access to LanzaTech's world-class gas-fermentation process technology and help accelerate the commercialization of a number of exciting bio-derived processes currently under development at INVISTA's bioscience laboratory in Wilton, United Kingdom." A copy of INVISTA's press release is available online.

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On May 12, 2014, the Silent Spring Institute and the Harvard School of Public Health released a study finding that 17 groups of chemicals found in everyday products could be linked to breast cancer. The groups of chemicals include those found in vehicle exhaust, flame retardants, stain-resistant textiles, including those commonly used to upholster furniture, paint removers, and disinfection byproducts found in drinking water. A copy of the report is available online.

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On May 6, 2014, in what is largely seen as a win for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the biofuels industry, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the challenge to EPA's final 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule by Monroe Energy, LLC (Monroe Energy), a refinery and subsidiary of Delta Airlines. In Monroe Energy, LLC v. EPA, the court held that EPA properly utilized its authority under the federal RFS to set the 2013 RFS volume requirements. The court disagreed with Monroe Energy that EPA did not sufficiently consider factors in setting the final 2013 RFS rule, including the means of compliance for obligated parties. Further, the court held that the RFS provides EPA wide discretion under its cellulosic waiver provision. As such, it was within EPA's discretion to decide against lowering the overall or advanced 2013 RFS requirements when it lowered the 2013 cellulosic requirements using that authority.


The May 6 decision did not include challenges to EPA's final 2013 RFS rule related to overall, advanced, and cellulosic biofuel requirements of the American Petroleum Institute (API) and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). The court severed the API and AFPM challenges to the 2013 rule from Monroe Energy's challenge to the same rule. The court had earlier agreed to sever and hold in abeyance challenges to the cellulosic biofuel requirement under the 2013 rule while EPA reconsidered it.
 


 
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On May 2, 2013, EPA published a proposed rule and a direct final rule that would amend its 2013 cellulosic requirement published on August 15, 2013. The rules are available here and here.


Through these actions, EPA is proposing a revised and reduced cellulosic standard for 2013 of 810,185 gallons. As EPA explains, the direct final rule will be "effective on July 1, 2014 without further notice, unless EPA receives relevant adverse comment by June 2, 2014. If EPA receives relevant adverse comment, [it] will publish a timely withdrawal of this direct final rule in the Federal Register informing the public that this rule will not take effect."


EPA also explains that the proposed rule and direct final rule follow from EPA having granted petitions for reconsideration of the 2013 cellulosic biofuel standard by API and AFPM. Further, EPA explains that it granted the petitions because KiOR, which was "one of the two companies that EPA expected to produce cellulosic biofuel in 2013 announced soon after EPA signed its final rule that it intended to produce substantially lower volumes of cellulosic biofuel in 2013 than it had earlier reported to EPA. Since the cellulosic biofuel standard was based on EPA's projection of cellulosic biofuel production in 2013, EPA deemed this new information to be of central relevance to the rule, warranting reconsideration. On reconsideration, EPA is directed to base the standard on the lower of 'projected' production of cellulosic fuel in 2013 or the cellulosic biofuel applicable volume set forth in the statute. Since data are available to show actual production volumes for 2013, EPA's 'projection' and final rule are based on actual cellulosic biofuel production in 2013."
 


 
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On May 6, 2014, the National Research Council (NRC) released a Congressionally mandated, EPA-sponsored report finding that EPA has made "substantial improvements" to its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) since 2011. While the report acknowledges these improvements, it provides recommendations for further IRIS enhancements. For instance, according to the National Academies' press release on the report, "to ensure that the IRIS program provides the best assessments possible, the committee recommended that EPA develop a plan for strategically updating its methodology, systematically addressing any identified inefficiencies, and continually evaluating whether the IRIS teams have the appropriate expertise and training."


The National Academies' press release is available online. The EPA press release on the report is available online. The report is available for purchase or can be read online.
 


 
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Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) has created an online hub for news, information, and commentary on Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform that is available at http://www.TSCAreform.org. B&C's lawyers, scientists, regulatory specialists, and business consultants relentlessly participate in and track developments regarding ongoing TSCA reform efforts and related state regulatory initiatives such as California's Safer Consumer Products Regulations and related developments under the Green Chemistry Initiative.


www.TSCAreform.org contains constantly updated links to commentary, analysis, articles, and regulatory documents to help those in the chemical producer and downstream chemical products industries understand what they need to know about TSCA reform, and what it means to their business.
 


 
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The U.S. Senate is expected to consider its version of tax extender legislation, S. 2260, the "Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act," as early as next week. On April 3, 2014, the Senate Finance Committee approved its version of the 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 also available online.


 
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This week, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (GCRP), a collaboration of 13 federal agencies and myriad academia, issued its third National Climate Assessment. The 841 page report and a summary of its highlights are available online.


This report is significant because compared to previous reports it more definitively attributes human activity as the cause of increased climate change, which is causing more severe weather. The report asserts that climate change is here now and will have more and more devastating impacts throughout the country. It is not a future event. Additionally, it more strongly links climate change to severe weather.


The Administration reportedly is hopeful that the report will help motivate action on climate change. It may be working to some extent as two prominent Republicans -- former Utah Governor and Presidential Candidate John Huntsman, and Lee Thomas, an EPA Administrator under the Regan Administration -- authored op-eds published on May 7, 2014, urging Republicans to accept climate change and offer leadership on the issue.
 


 
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