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 March 28, 2018, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sonny Perdue issued a statement providing clarification on USDA’s oversight of plants produced through innovative new breeding techniques that include techniques called genome editing.  The announcement states that under its biotechnology regulations, USDA “does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests,” which “includes a set of new techniques that are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new plant varieties that are indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods” and “[t]he newest of these methods, such as genome editing, expand traditional plant breeding tools because they can introduce new plant traits more quickly and precisely, potentially saving years or even decades in bringing needed new varieties to farmers.”   Secretary Perdue stated that using this science, “farmers can continue to meet consumer expectations for healthful, affordable food produced in a manner that consumes fewer natural resources.”


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 28, 2018, Bioenergy Australia and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) released “Biofuels to bioproducts: A growth industry for Australia.” The paper calls for the implementation of a Five-Point Plan creating a bioenergy policy framework to spur growth in Ausralia’s bioeconomy.  The paper also argues that the current lack of policy and programs encouraging the bioenergy industry have hurt Australia as it has missed out on economic, social, and environmental benefits that other countries have experienced as a result of bioeconomy growth. It is suggested that “increased use of 10 per cent ethanol-blended petrol (E10) in Australia could create more than 8600 direct & indirect jobs, attract $1.56 billion in investment and generate more than $1.1 billion in additional revenue each year in regional areas.” The researchers proposed a Five-Point Plan in the paper, which includes:

  1. Developing a national biofuels, biobased products, and bioeconomy strategy;
  2. Implementing a national biofuels mandate supporting the introduction of higher quality fuels;
  3. Providing supporting mechanisms of education, incentives, and infrastructure;
  4. Establishing policy frameworks for advanced/drop-in biofuels, biochemical, and biobased products; and
  5. Supporting commercial developments through industry and research collaboration.

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

ASTM International’s energizing fuels division recently passed an Alcohol To Jet (ATJ) ethanol based specification ballot measure that will allow jet fuel, produced from ethanol under the ATJ process, to be sold commercially on a global basis.  ASTM D7566 had previously permitted ethanol as a feedstock for Aviation Turbine Fuel with a maximum final fuel blend of 50 percent, but now permits a full replacement of the hydrocarbon fuel. This change opens the door to the use of more drop-in fuels used as alternatives to fossil fuels.  Kevin Weiss, CEO of Byogy Renewables, stated of the change, "it's one thing to have a great commodity product, but without an operative supply chain it's difficult to sell. […] We now have the ability to supplement and leverage the existing downstream petroleum industry with a well distributed ATJ Sustainable Aviation Fuel that can be produced anywhere by building on the existing global ethanol supply chain.”


 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its report on the economic impact of the biobased economy.  The report, titled “Indicators of the U.S. Biobased Economy,” reviews data from 2011 and 2016 to analyze trends in the agricultural, bioenergy, renewable chemicals, and policy sectors.  According to the analysis, the renewable chemicals and biobased products sector contributed 4.22 million jobs and an economic value of $393 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014.  Between 2014 and 2016, the number of products certified under the UDSA Biopreferred® program increased from 1,800 to 2,900.  The analysis was commissioned by the USDA Office of the Chief Economist and prepared jointly by the Energy and Natural Resource Research Cluster at East Carolina University and the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative (SCRC) at North Carolina State University.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

According to documents from the European Union (EU), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the EU must remove anti-dumping (AD) duties on biodiesel imports from 13 Argentine and Indonesian producers.  Importers will be able to claim back duties that were paid in the past.  While the companies that challenged the measures are no longer subject to AD duties, the duties still apply to companies not covered under the legal challenge.  The EU initially appealed the September 2016 ECJ ruling to annul the duties but later dropped the appeal.  In addition to ECJ, the World Trade Organization has ruled against the EU AD duties, which were established in 2013.  Indonesia intends to challenge the biodiesel duties established in the U.S. and to continue expanding biodiesel subsidies to cover palm oil blended fuels for use by the mining and power sector.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 19, 2018, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the delivery of its first batch of 100 percent renewable propane to SHV Energy.  Neste is operating the world’s first large-scale renewable production facility in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.  The new facility, that primarily produces Neste MY Renewable Diesel, purifies and separates renewable propane from the sidestream gases.  The refinery is capable of producing 40,000 tonnes of propane per year.  The renewable propane can be used in a variety of existing applications, including transport, commercial heating, and retail leisure cylinders, without modifications to existing gas applications technology.  SHV Energy will market the propane as BioLPG and sell it to customers across Europe.

Tags: Neste, Biofuel

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 20, 2018, BioLogiQ, Inc. announced that its NuPlastiQ® GP biopolymer received certification under the USDA BioPreferred program.  NuPlastiQ is a 100 percent renewably-resourced, plant-based resin that is blended with traditional plastics to reduce fossil-based plastic use and greenhouse gas emissions.  The thermoplastic resin is produced using BioLogiQ’s proprietary process for converting high crystalline starch into a low crystalline (mostly amorphous) plastic.  The starch is derived from potato waste following processing to produce potato chips and French fries. 
 
The BioPreferred program is a USDA initiative to increase the purchase and use of biobased products through mandatory purchasing requirements for federal agencies and contractors, and voluntary product certification and labeling.  The USDA Certified Biobased Product label is designed to help consumers identify biobased products containing a verified amount of renewable biological ingredients.


 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 12, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued in the Federal Register a notice announcing the submission of an information collection request (ICR) on the guidelines for designating biobased products for federal procurement to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Pursuant to Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA) of 2002, as amended by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (FCEA) of 2008, and the Agricultural Act of 2014, federal agencies are required to purchase biobased products under the preferred procurement program.  Product categories for preferred procurement are established by rulemaking based on the availability of biobased products, the economic and technological feasibility of using such products, and the costs of using such products.  Additionally, federal agencies are provided with information on the availability, price, performance, and environmental and public health benefits of such product categories, and, where appropriate, the recommended level of biobased material to be contained in the procured product.  Such information is gathered under the ICR from biobased product manufacturers and vendors by the Office of Procurement and Property Management (OPPM) and its contractors.  USDA is seeking comments on:

  • Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of USDA, including whether the information will have practical utility;
  • The accuracy of USDA’s estimate of burden, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.
Tags: USDA, OMB, Comments

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 13, 2018, the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service issued in the Federal Register a notice of solicitation of applications for the  Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for fiscal year (FY) 2018.  The solicitation is being issued prior to the passage of a final appropriations act to allow time for the submission and review of applications within the current FY.  Information on the amount of funding received in any continuing resolution or the final appropriations act will be published on the Rural Business-Cooperative Service website.  The solicitation applies to two types of REAP funding assistance.  The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Assistance provides grants and guaranteed loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems, such as renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), wind, solar, small hydro-electric, ocean, geothermal, or hydrogen derived from these renewable resources.  The Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants supports the establishment of a program designed to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses with evaluating the energy efficiency and the potential to incorporate renewable energy technologies into their operations.
 
To be considered for funding in FY 2018, submissions must be received as outlined below:
 

Application

 
Application window
opening dates
Application window closing dates
Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants ($20,000 or less grant only request or a combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is $20,000 or less competing for up to approximately 50 percent of the set aside funds) April 1, 2017






 
October 31, 2017






 
Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants ($20,000 or less grant only request or a combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is $20,000 or less competing for the remaining set aside funds) November 1, 2017





 
April 30, 2018





 
Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants (Unrestricted grants, including combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is greater than $20,000,) April 1, 2017




 
April 30, 2018




 
Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Guaranteed Loans Continuous application cycle
 
Continuous application cycle
 
Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants February 1, 2017

 
January 31, 2018

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Given that applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, applications received after the specified deadlines will be considered with other applications received in the next application window.
Tags: USDA, REAP

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 13, 2018, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that nominations for the fifth annual Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology are being accepted.  Each year, the award recognizes an outstanding woman in the industrial biotechnology sector who has made significant contributions to the advancement of the biobased economy and biotechnology innovation.  The recipient will be presented with the award at the 2018 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Past recipients of the award include Dr. Debbie Yaver, Director of Expression Technology, Genomics and Bioinformatics at Novozymes; Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech; Anna Rath, President and CEO of NexSteppe; and Vonnie Estes, Independent Consultant.  Nominations will be accepted until March 28, 2018.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 12, 2018, Valtra, a leading tractor manufacturer in the Nordic countries, announced that Neste MY Renewable Diesel would be used as the start-up fuel for all new tractors.  All new Valtra tractors will be delivered to customers with fuel that is produced from 100 percent renewable waste and residues and produces up to 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil diesel fuel.  Furthermore, Neste MY will be used to fuel the forklifts operated within the factory.  The renewable fuel can be used in both the tractors and forklifts without additives or modifications to the engine.  According to Mika Hyötyläinen, Vice President of Marketing at Neste, a BRAG member, “Neste MY can be used confidently all around the world and throughout the year, as it can withstand temperatures down to -34°C. Its storage properties in the tank are also excellent.”


 
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Tags: RFS, Biofuel

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 8, 2018, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced companion legislation (S. 2519, H.R. 5212) in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, respectively, to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  The Growing Renewable Energy through Existing and New Environmentally Responsible (GREENER) Fuels Act aims to:

  • Phase out the corn ethanol mandate and immediately reduce the amount of ethanol in fuel by as much as one billion gallons by capping the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 9.7 percent;
  • Help farmers return cornfields to pasture and wildlife habitat through a ten cents per renewable identification number (RIN) fee to fund a new private land protection and restoration fund in the U.S. Treasury; and
  • Extend the cellulosic next generation biofuel mandate until two billion gallons of annual production is achieved or 2037, whichever is soonest, and improve the way the mandate is implemented to produce liquid transportation fuels that dramatically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. ​ 

According to Representative Welch, the “legislation reforms the mandate to dramatically reduce its environmental impact and to support the continued growth of advanced biofuels.”

Tags: RFS, Biofuel

 
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