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 Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On March 31, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of BRAG, announced the launch of an online tool that uses e-certification to monitor the biobased content of products.  Companies that sign up to use the online platform will be able to exchange biobased material certificates for everything from base ingredients to finished products.  The online tool eliminates the need for separate, external biobased certifications at various points along the supply chain by allowing companies to transfer the certificates electronically.  According to AkzoNobel, tracking the exact amount of biobased raw materials used throughout the value chain will enable producers and consumers to purchase more sustainable products and move towards a more circular economy.  AkzoNobel partnered with Advanced Biochemical (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (ABT) and EY on the project, which is currently in the pilot phase, to encourage transparency and sustainable chemistry.


 
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■  International Renewable Energy Agency, “Eliminating Energy-Related Carbon Emissions Possible, New IRENA Study Finds
 
■   Biofuels Association of Australia, “BAA Rejects Productivity Commission Claims
 
■  South China Morning Post, “Woks Away: China’s Plan to Make Jet Fuel from Restaurant Leftovers
 
■  Cornell Chronicle, “Microalgae Could Play Key Role in Relieving Climate Warming” 

 
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On March 16, 2017, 23 Senators, including Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), sent President Trump a bipartisan letter requesting that he maintain the point of obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  In the letter, the Senators remind Trump that the RFS program was adopted to provide stability for renewable fuel producers and that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that, to meet this goal, the point of obligation should be placed on refiners and importers.  Shifting the point of obligation downstream would create little incentive for refiners to produce the necessary blendstocks, which would make downstream entities unable to comply.  The letter outlines the detrimental effects that changing the point of obligation would have on refiners, blenders, marketers and retailers, and states that the proposed changes are broadly opposed by the majority of the transportation fuel market.  The Senators acknowledge Trump’s commitment to the RFS program and state that they look forward to working with Trump to ensure the RFS program continues to aid in job creation and economic growth across the country.


 
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On March 21, 2017, the renewable fuel volume requirements for 2017, which were issued in final by EPA on December 12, 2016, were implemented.  The effective date for the 2017 requirements was delayed following the Presidential directive to postpone the implementation of new regulations to allow for review by the new administration.  Although EPA has yet to publish an announcement on the matter, industry stakeholders have welcomed the 2017 biofuel volumes and 2018 biomass-based diesel volumes.  As reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post “EPA Publishes Final 2017 RFS Requirements,” the volume requirements are:
 

■  311 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel in 2017;
 
■   4.28 billion gallons of advanced biofuel in 2017;
 
■  19.28 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2017; and
 
■  2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel in 2018.
Tags: EPA, RFS, 2017, Biofuel

 
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On March 19, 2017, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published the sixth edition of its specifications for marine fuels (ISO 8217:2017), which includes a redefined “class F” grade for biofuel blends in marine distillates.  Up to seven percent fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), which has similar physical properties to conventional diesel, is permitted in the new “F” grades, specifically DFA, DFZ, and DFB.  Additionally, the DMA specifications have been amended to permit 0.4 higher weight percent biodiesel, compared to the suggested level in the previous iteration of the standard.  Substantial amendments were also made to the scope and other general requirements.  The full specifications are available for purchase on the ISO website.


 
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On March 23, 2017, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) announced that an antidumping and countervailing duty petition had been filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) claiming that Argentine and Indonesian companies are violating trade laws by saturating the U.S. market with dumped and subsidized biodiesel.  The petition was filed on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition, which represents the NBB and U.S. biodiesel producers.  According to NBB, Argentine and Indonesian producers are selling their biodiesel in the U.S. at prices that are substantially lower than their costs of production, and government programs in both countries are providing illegal subsidies to their domestic biodiesel industries.  Between 2014 and 2016, biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia increased by 464 percent, which resulted in an 18 percent loss in market share for U.S. manufacturers.  Both countries have previously been charged with violating international trade laws.  Following NBB’s announcement, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released a statement urging DOC and ITC to give the suit every appropriate consideration and pledging to continue to work across the aisle to reform the biodiesel tax credit, so that it incentivizes the domestic production of clean, renewable biodiesel.


 
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On March 24, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG®, announced its approval of draft proposals by the Swedish government regarding mandated reductions in traffic fuel emissions and the continued tax exemption for high-blended biofuels.  By 2030, the government aims to reduce carbon emissions from transportation by 70 percent.  In addition to reducing carbon emissions, the ambitious targets and long-term perspective will help support innovation and investments in biofuels.  Neste, which has a strong focus on developing cost-efficient technologies to convert forest residues into biofuels, stated that the substantial amount of forest-based raw materials in the country will likely play a key role in achieving the proposed goals.


 
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The 2017 Biobased and Renewable Chemicals Conference, which has been organized by the Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance (DESCA) and supported by the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute, is a two-day event that will focus on the emerging landscape of technologies that are replacing fossil fuel-based raw materials and the major challenges and opportunities facing the industry.  The event features interactive panel discussions, keynote speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities with industry experts and thought leaders, including:
 
Mike Gudgeon, Technical Manager, PBF Energy;
 
Dr. Seetha Kammula-Coleman, President, STRIDE;
 
Dr. Stanley Merritt, Sustainability Leader, The Chemours Company;
 
■  Dr. Tim Mueller, North American Research Director, DuPont Science & Engineering Operations;
 
■   Dr. Erica Nemser, CEO, Compact Membrane Systems;
 
■  Lori Palmer, Chief Business Ventures Officer at Trellist Marketing & Technologies; and
 
■  Dr. Bryan Tracy, CEO & Co-Founder, White Dog Labs.

Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D., Manager of BRAG®, will be attending the conference and will be pleased to discuss questions attendees may have about the regulatory issues facing biobased and renewable chemicals.  Registration is available online.  We look forward to seeing you there.

 
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On March 15, 2017, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) published the results of a joint study with German and Canadian agencies on the impact of biofuels on jet engine pollution, including emissions and contrail formation.  The results demonstrate that the use of a 50-50 blend of aviation fuel and fuel of hydro processed esters and fatty acids from camelina plant oil reduced particle emissions by 50-70 percent.  Since soot emissions are a major driver of contrail formation, the particle reductions observed with the use of biofuel are expected to result in a reduced concentration of ice crystals in the contrails, thus, minimizing the impact of the contrails on the environment.  NASA plans to continue to study and demonstrate the potential benefits of biofuels, particularly on their proposed supersonic X-plane.

 
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On March 14, 2017, European Bioplastics (EUBP) welcomed the outcome of the European Parliament’s plenary vote on the waste legislation proposal in which the Members of Parliament recognized the contributions of bioplastics to the European Union’s (EU) circular economy.  EUBP highlighted amendments to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive that encourage Member States to support the use of biobased packaging and to improve market conditions for such materials and products, and amendments to the Waste Framework Directive that incorporates organic recycling in the definition of recycling, which will result in a separate collection of bio-waste across Europe.  According to EUBP, the plenary’s vote strengthens the biobased economy and supports the goal of reducing dependence on fossil resources while demonstrating that re-use and recycling remain a priority in the pursuit of an EU circular economy.


 
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On March 13, 2017, the South Dakota Farmers Union announced that the National Farmers Union had passed a resolution calling for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to open the market to higher blends of ethanol during its annual meeting in San Diego.  The resolution, which was brought forward by the South Dakota Farmers Union delegation, promotes the use of higher blended fuels, such as E30, as a way to expand the retail fuels infrastructure and support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
 
In addition to passing the resolution, the National Farmers Union filed legal comments regarding EPA’s overreach in its interpretation of the Clean Air Act (CAA), which limits ethanol content to 15 percent.  Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union, called on EPA and all government regulators to reverse statements and policies that unfairly limit the amount of ethanol in fuel and stated that both the state and national organization continue to seek greater market access for higher blended fuels.


 
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On March 8, 2017, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that nominations for the fourth annual Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology were being accepted.  The award, which recognizes an outstanding woman in the industrial biotechnology sector who has made significant contributions to the advancement of the biobased economy and biotechnology innovation, will be presented during the plenary session at the 2017 BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology in Montréal, Québec, Canada.  Past recipients of the award include Dr. Debbie Yaver, Director of Expression Technology, Genomics and Bioinformatics at Novozymes, Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, and Anna Rath, President and CEO of NexSteppe.  Nominations will be accepted until March 24, 2017


 
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On March 14, 2017, researchers from the Brazilian Bioethanol Science and Technology Laboratory (CTBE) published a study focused on quantifying the economic and environmental impacts of second generation biofuels, based on current and future scenarios of sugarcane biorefineries that include consideration of improvements to the industrial process and biomass production systems.  Although costs were determined to be higher in the short term, the study demonstrates that second generation ethanol production is more competitive than first generation ethanol in the long run, and that it reduces climate change impacts by more than 80 percent compared to gasoline.  According to the researchers, the results should stimulate incentives and funding programs that support the production and consumption of second generation ethanol. 


 

 
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