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

September 25, 2019, DOE EERE announced via the Federal Register a request for information (RFI) on the identification of wells of opportunity for critical geothermal field research applications. DOE’s RFI is directed to the geothermal community, seeking information about underutilized wells in known geothermal resource areas in the United States. Its aim is to obtain feedback on industry willingness to partner with DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) to test downhole tools, technologies, and methodologies that can improve the probability of successful geothermal commercialization. Responses to the RFI can be submitted electronically and must be received by October 25, 2019. The complete RFI document can be accessed here.

Tags: DOE, RFI

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on September 18, 2019, that it is now accepting nominations for the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards for companies or institutions that have developed a new process or product that helps protect public health and the environment. EPA defines green chemistry as the design of chemical products and processes that reduce both the generation and use of chemicals that are hazardous to the environment and people’s health. Nominations for innovative technologies featuring the design of greener chemicals and products, greener chemical syntheses and reactions, or greener chemical processes are due to EPA by December 31, 2019. EPA states that it anticipates giving awards to outstanding green chemistry technologies in five categories in June 2020. According to EPA, since the inception of the awards more than two decades ago, it has received more than 1,600 nominations and presented awards to 118 technologies that reduced the use or generation of hundreds of millions of pounds of hazardous chemicals and saved billions of gallons of water and trillions of BTUs in energy. An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute will formally judge the 2020 nominations and make recommendations to EPA for the 2020 winners.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 25, 2019, EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) recognized fourteen Safer Choice Partner of the Year award winners for their outstanding achievements in the design, manufacture, selection, and use of products with safer chemicals for use in households and facilities nationwide. Representing businesses, including woman-owned, small- and medium-sized, local government, and associations, winners from across 12 states and the District of Columbia were recognized.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 24, 2019, DOE EERE’s Assistant Secretary, Daniel R. Simmons, announced the winners of the first round of the American-Made Solar Prize. The prize consists of a $3 million competition to revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing. Each prize winner received $500,000 for use at DOE National Laboratories.

In addition to the aforementioned announcements, DOE also declared two initiatives led by EERE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO): the National Community Solar Partnership and the teams participating in the new Solar District Cup. The National Community Solar Partnership focuses on the expansion of affordable community solar access to every American household by 2025. It is designed to empower government entities, utilities, financiers, businesses, nonprofits, affordable-housing providers, and stakeholders. The partnership will provide technical assistance, tools, and information to low- and moderate-income communities to increase solar installations.

The Solar District Cup, funded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), consists of a collegiate competition for student teams to design and model solar-plus-storage systems across multiple buildings on a local distribution network. This competition is designed to prepare students to enter the solar workforce amid the changing energy landscape.

Tags: DOE, Solar

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Green Building Council Massachusetts (USGBC) recently published its 2019 Report titled Zero Energy Buildings in Massachusetts: Saving Money from the Start. The report assesses zero energy (ZE) upfront building costs, model performance, and life-cycle costs in Massachusetts (MA). Local MA leaders have been working to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce energy use in the built environment. This work has been done by retrofitting existing buildings and constructing new buildings to achieve ZE standards. Although many stakeholders and decision-makers cite high costs as the primary barrier for ZE buildings, USGBC reports that many types of ZE buildings can be constructed without an upfront cost. Also according to the report, some commercial buildings may even see return on investment in as little as one year. Key findings and policy recommendations are outlined, accompanied by examples that can be used as a template to overcome the ZE building barriers often encountered. The full report can be accessed here.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 10, 2019, the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced in the Federal Register a request for information (RFI) on the U.S. bioeconomy. Calling for input from all interested parties on the U.S. bioeconomy, OSTP’s RFI aims to inform notable gaps, vulnerabilities, and areas to promote and protect in the bioeconomy that may benefit from federal government attention. Input from the public is welcome, including those with capital investments, those performing innovative research, and those developing enabling platforms and applications in the field of biological sciences. Of particular interest to OSTP are suggestions of areas of greatest priority within the bioeconomy. Comments are due on or prior to October 22, 2019.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 17, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the selection of the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust (POET) as Network Director for the U.S. Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research Team (TEAMER) Program. TEAMER is a three-year program that supports testing and research for marine energy technologies. It provides access to test facilities and technical expertise to assist technology developers with designing devices that save energy. In a collaborative effort, universities, established DOE National Laboratories, and National Marine Renewable Energy Centers will engage in the TEAMER Program’s efforts. The TEAMER Program is an EERE Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) project to strengthen U.S. water power research and development (R&D) and testing. WPTO aims to increase competitiveness while promoting economic prosperity and energy security.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On September 16, 2019, Governor of Virginia, Ralph S. Northam (D), signed Executive Order Forty-Three, establishing statewide objectives for clean energy production expansion. The target goals outlined in the Executive Order include a 30 percent increase of electricity powered by renewable energy resources by 2030, and achieving 100 percent of energy by carbon-neutral resources by 2050. Directing the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) to develop a plan of action to meet the renewable energy goals, the plan should address issues related to storage, energy efficiency, equity, and environmental justice. Governor Northam emphasizes in his Executive Order how advancements in clean energy can offer Virginia an opportunity to address inequities for Virginia’s vulnerable populations. DMME is advised to work in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Secretary of Natural Resources, and the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality to develop this plan. Governor Northam’s concerns related to this imperative issue clearly stand out in his Executive Order. The Executive Order was effective upon its signing.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On September 17, 2019, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) chaired a hearing to discuss the use and sourcing of minerals needed for clean energy technologies. Highlighting the fact that renewable technologies such as batteries and wind turbines are built from minerals, Senator Murkowski stated that “[t]he United States is capable of being a leader in the development of the minerals needed for clean energy technologies.” As Chairman for the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, she further argued that for this to be achieved, the production, manufacturing, and recycling of minerals must expand to rebuild a robust domestic supply chain. In her opening statement, Senator Murkowski announced the release of a report by the Congressional Research Service. The report summarizes analyses of the quantity of materials needed to meet renewable and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission goals. The report includes an analysis of a World Bank Group (WB) study, which forecasts that demand for certain minerals will increase under an aggressive scenario to limit warming. The other two analyses in the report consist of DOE critical mineral demand projections and a gross domestic product (GDP) electricity demand study by Halada et al.

Tags: GHG, Report

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

Recently, the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council (NDCUC) announced the implementation of its new program, the North Dakota Unleaded88 Expansion Program, in partnership with the North Dakota Ethanol Council (NDEC). The goal of the program is to partner with fuel retailers to provide drivers with Unleaded 88, which consists of a higher octane fuel containing 15 percent ethanol blend with 85 percent gasoline. Through June 30, 2020, NDCUC will grant funds to fuel retailers for infrastructure needs to offer Unleaded88. Claiming that Unleaded88 provides a safe, economical, and cleaner fuel option to consumers, NDCUC’s Chairman, Terry Wehlander states that 40 to 60 percent of North Dakota’s corn crop is purchased by its five ethanol plants. Therefore, Wehlander and the Chairman of NDEC both argue that increasing the availability of Unleaded88 will create more market stability for consumers and agricultural producers. Retailers interested in applying for the program can find the application and guidelines on NDCUC’s website and submit the application via e-mail.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

This month, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, published its 2019 Sustainability Report titled The Future Is Clean. In its 2019 report, ACI outlines its sustainability goals, which include increased transparency, the reduction of GHG emissions, and the move toward a circular global economy. As part of its activities to achieve such goals, ACI has worked on filling knowledge gaps, harnessing power in the power of convening, uniting for a cleaner world, and further developing its sustainability organizations. In its report, ACI also highlights its support for the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how its future goals can positively contribute to the SDGs.

Managed by B&C® Consortia Management (BCCM), BRAG is a consortium of international and well-respected member organizations and companies engaged in the development of biobased or renewable chemical products. BRAG members recognize the importance of advocacy, education, and communication. For further information, see the BRAG webpage on membership.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 3, 2019, the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) and National Health Commission (NHC) jointly issued a final Technical Framework Guideline for Environmental Risk Assessment of Chemical Substances (Trial). This Trial Guideline provides a basic framework, including evaluation steps, technical requirements, and report preparation, for the environmental risk assessment of a single chemical substance under standard production and uses. The Trial Guideline does not apply to mixtures or exposures due to accidents or leakages. The “four-step” evaluation includes hazard identification, dose-response assessment, exposure assessment, and risk characterization. It also outlines uncertainty analysis, data quality assessment, spatial scale of exposure assessment, risk assessment of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) and very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) chemical substances, and consideration for risk assessment of metals and their compounds. For further details, see The ACTA Group’s commentary here.


 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 9, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an update to its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. According to EPA’s announcement, the only part of the plan that has been modified is its language of the strategic goals. Aiming to better reflect EPA’s environmental and policy goals, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated that this “update helps us [EPA] more clearly articulate our goals and commitment to providing greater regulatory certainty to states, tribes, and local governments.” The update includes three updated goal statements as follows:

  • Goal 1: A Cleaner, Healthier Environment -- Deliver a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment for all Americans and future generations by carrying out the Agency’s core mission.
  • Goal 2: More Effective Partnerships -- Provide certainty to states, localities, tribal nations, and the regulated community in carrying out shared responsibilities and communicating results to all Americans.
  • Goal 3: Greater Certainty, Compliance, and Effectiveness -- Increase certainty, compliance, and effectiveness by applying the rule of law to achieve more efficient and effective agency operations, service delivery, and regulatory relief.”

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 29, 2019, an article titled Population susceptibility: A vital consideration in chemical risk evaluation under the Lautenberg Toxic Substances Control Act was published in the PLOS Biology Journal. The article, written by academics, criticizes EPA for not identifying pregnant women, infants, children, families near industrial sites, and other susceptible and highly exposed populations in its risk evaluations. This lack of consideration for vulnerable populations, according to the article, is the lead cause of EPA’s future challenge to incorporate current scientific principles and address data deficits in the process of identifying, evaluating, and mitigating unreasonable risks. Given this challenge, Koman et al. urge EPA to act quickly to identify potentially highly exposed or susceptible populations and subpopulations, evaluate risks, and safeguard health through primary prevention


 
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