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

As some may recall, on October 29, 2018, DOE announced the topic areas for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) for research and development (R&D) proposals for funding by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) in fiscal year (FY) 2019. The original timeline for the nine topics proposed by EERE intended for the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) was scheduled to be released on November 26, 2018. On the aforementioned date, however, instead of the FOA, DOE announced a delay in the original schedule pending the completion of the internal DOE administrative review process. The notice did not specify when applicants should expect the FOA, but stated that DOE will notify interested parties when it has been issued. Other important dates related to the FOAs do not seem to be affected by the delay at this time.

Tags: DOE, Research

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

Climate Transparency, a global partnership of international organizations to stimulate G20 climate action and empower zero carbon technologies through transparency, published in early November 2018 their annual “G20 Brown to Green -- The G20 Transition to A Low-Carbon Economy” report. The report summarizes carbon-reducing activities across all G20 countries, utilizing 80 indicators. In an assessment of the climate policy and efforts performance of each G20 country, the report identifies gaps and highlights the financial flow necessary for the renewable sector to succeed. The report demonstrates that the transition into low-emission has been particularly successful in Mexico and in France, while particularly lagging in Canada and Saudi Arabia.

Tags: Carbon

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 16, 2018, scientists at the Israeli Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev announced the discovery of a new technique to produce biofuel from human excrement. In an attempt to reduce carbon footprint and address poor sanitation in Global South countries, scientists at BGU developed a technique called hydrothermal carbonization. By hydrothermally carbonizing raw solid human waste biomass, hydrochar, a coal-like sterilized substance, can be produced and used for household cooking and heating. Given energy scarcity and lack of basic sanitation in parts of the world, this new technique “could potentially serve as a sustainable sanitation technology with a closed-loop cycle approach while recovering energy and nutrients.” In addition to hydrochar, the newly developed technique also produces a liquid that is nutrient rich and can, consequently, be used as a fertilizer.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 13, 2018, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that the Finish airport operator Finavia has decided to adopt Neste’s MY Renewable Diesel in its vehicles at four airports. Neste MY Renewable Diesel is a low-carbon biofuel produced 100 percent from renewable raw materials. Finavia’s switch to this renewable biofuel is part of its goal to reach carbon neutrality within its airports by 2020. The use of Neste’s MY Renewable Diesel is not new in Finland. The biofuel has been in use at Helsinki airport for over a year now in Apron buses, reducing Finavia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 610 metric tons. Neste’s Vice President of Marketing and Services in Finland, Sam Holmberg, stated that Neste is pleased to cooperate with Finavia and has plans to extend the biofuel’s availability to Northern Finland in the near future.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 6, 2018, DOE EERE will host a webinar on “Biomass Production and Water Quality in the Mississippi River Basin” at 8:00 a.m. (EST). The webinar will be presented by Argonne National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who will delve into the “modeling and analyses of potential implications of biomass production on nutrients and sediments in each of the six tributaries of the Mississippi River Basin.” Discussions will be held on methodology, data sources, water quality estimates, and system boundary. Register here.

Tags: DOE, Webinar

 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 13, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the topic areas for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) for research and development (R&D) proposals for funding by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) in fiscal year (FY) 2019.  The topics include:  advanced manufacturing; bioenergy; buildings; fuel cells; geothermal; solar; vehicles; water; and wind.  They also include the following joint topics:  advanced manufacturing and solar energy technologies offices; advanced manufacturing and geothermal technologies offices; and advanced manufacturing and fuel cell technologies offices.  DOE EERE, emphasizing its support of early-stage research and the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, plans to fund $20 million for over 100 new projects.  Letters of intent for applying for funding in any of the aforementioned topics are due by December 17, 2018.  Applications will be due on February 4, 2018.

Tags: DOE, SBIR, EERE

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 9, 2018, DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Steven Winberg, announced the new director of the DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL): Brian J. Anderson, Ph.D.  Dr. Anderson will serve, as of November 11, 2018, as the new director of NETL.  Dr. Anderson founded and headed the West Virginia University Energy Institute prior to taking the role of NETL director.  Winberg highlighted that Dr. Anderson’s background in fossil fuel energy and chemical engineering will be assets to his role at NETL, which focuses on coal, natural gas, and oil R&D.  Dr. Anderson demonstrated appreciation for the role stating that “[t]he work that is being conducted at NETL is critical to advancing technologies that will transform the use of our nation’s vast coal, natural gas, and oil resources to protect our environment and enhance our nation’s energy security.” The position became available after NETL’s former acting director, Sean Plasynski, Ph.D., was appointed as the laboratory’s deputy director and chief operating officer (COO).

Tags: NETL, DOE

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 13, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the submission for review of an information collection request (ICR) on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  83 Fed. Reg. 56319.  The Federal Register notice states that purpose of this submission is to obtain OMB approval of an ICR that consolidates some existing collections.  By consolidating the existing collections and recordkeeping updates, EPA is aiming to create a new, consistent, and easily understandable format to report burden and cost estimates related to the RFS program.  Additionally, the ICR requests approval of updates to the recordkeeping and reporting burden along with cost estimated in December 2017.  EPA requested comments on this ICR for a 60-day period.  The November 13, 2018, notice extends the request for public comments by an additional 30 days.  Additional comments may be submitted on or before December 13, 2018.  The estimated burden approximates 566,665 hours per year, with a total estimated cost of $57,457,330 per year.  The cost estimate includes $0 of annualized capital or operation and maintenance costs.

Tags: EPA, RFS, OMB, Biofuel

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 13, 2018, the European Parliament (EP) announced its approval of new targets for renewables and energy efficiency rates to be achieved by 2030.  According to the press release, “by 2030, energy efficiency in the [European Union (EU)] has to have improved by 32.5%, whereas the share of energy from renewables should be at least 32% of the EU’s gross final consumption.”  Highlighting the crucial role of second generation biofuels rather than first generation biofuels which lead to land use changes, the EP declared that the latter will no longer count towards the EU energy goals from 2030.  Starting in 2019, the plan is to phase out first generation biofuels gradually until it reaches zero.  By December 31, 2019, member states will be required to present a ten-year national energy and climate plan, which outlines the national measures that will be taken.

Tags: Biofuel, EU

 

 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

Is your company engaged in Class 2 chemistries that are similar to existing Class 2 chemicals but are derived from an innovative bio-source? We are looking for pioneering companies working on new biobased Class 2 chemicals to assist in advancing an important project with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
 
ISSUE:  While EPA sustainability goals would seemingly include adoption of improved biobased technologies, EPA’s policies under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) mean that many novel, sustainable technologies are considered “new chemicals” requiring EPA to conduct new chemical assessments.  If these new chemicals are converted to other substances by downstream customers, those substances are likely also new, requiring additional new chemical submissions and assessments.  Each new chemical submission and assessment represents a cost and a commercial delay and each is a barrier to adoption of what may be a promising sustainable technology.  These reviews can and do result in EPA applying risk management conditions on the production and distribution in commerce of the novel, renewable chemicals -- restrictions that may not apply to older chemistries even though they may be functionally identical in performance, hazard, and risk. Ironically, the new chemical may offer a more benign environmental footprint but nonetheless be subject to stricter controls.
 
POTENTIAL SOLUTION:  To address these issues, the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) has submitted to EPA, in partnership with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a BRAG member, a White Paper proposing a TSCA Inventory representation and equivalency determinations for renewable and sustainable biobased chemicals. EPA’s initial response to the White Paper has been positive and staff has indicated a willingness to conduct equivalency determinations if submitted. 
 
REQUEST:  BRAG is now seeking companies interested in participating in a pilot project to prepare and submit such requests.  Specifically, we are looking for companies that manufacture or plan to manufacture a Class 2 chemical substance that is functionally equivalent to another Class 2 chemical, but due to existing naming conventions, the two chemicals are not listed as equivalent.  If your company fits this description and you wish to support an effort to alleviate commercial burden for yourself and others in the future, please consider working with BRAG on this important project so we present impactful equivalency cases to EPA.
 
BRAG and Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) are committed to this project.  As such, we will evaluate all candidate chemicals submitted, select what we believe is a good test case for the project, and prepare as a courtesy the necessary submission paperwork and equivalency arguments, in conjunction with the nominating company.
 
Please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if your company is interested in submitting a nomination.

Tags: BRAG, Biobased

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 5, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that a proposed collection of information on the Biosimilars User Fee Program was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. FDA’s Biosimilars User Fee Program was established under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCI Act), which amended the Public Health Service Act through the addition of Section 351(k). The BPCI Act also amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to include Section 351(k) under human drug applications for prescription drug user fees provisions. The Program is meant to “create an abbreviated approval pathway for biological products shown to be biosimilar to or interchangeable with an FDA-licensed reference biological product. This allows a company to apply for licensure of a biosimilar or interchangeable biological product.” In 2012, the Biosimilar User Fee Act (BsUFA) allowed FDA to assess and collect user fees for activities connected with biosimilar biological product development (BPD). Some of these activities include the submission and review of forms, as well as an annual survey of all BsUFA participants.
 
The information collection proposal estimates an annual reporting burden of 57 hours, based on the number of respondents, the number of responses per respondent, the total annual responses, and the average burden per response. OMB will be accepting comments on FDA’s collection of information proposal until December 5, 2018.

Tags: FDA, OMB

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 6, 2018, Neste, a BRAG member, announced its partnership with Clariant to develop new sustainable material solutions. While Clariant concentrates on specialty chemicals, Neste consists of one of the leading companies providing renewable diesel and drop-in chemical solutions. In the announcement, Neste outlined the phases of the partnership, as follows:
 
Phase 1: The companies will start to replace fossil-fuel based ethylene and propylene with monomers from renewable feedstock.
 
Phase 2: The companies will develop alternative sustainable solutions from renewable raw materials for plastics and coatings.
 
The two phases are designed to allow the two companies to increase their biobased products, while reducing dependency on crude oil and climate emissions. Neste’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Peter Vanacker, stated that the “[c]ollaboration marks an essential step forward in Neste’s quest to become a preferred partner as a provider of sustainable chemicals solutions for forerunner brands.”


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 31, 2018, the Canadian National Energy Board released its 2018 report on energy supply and demand projections to 2040: “Canada’s Energy Future 2018: An Energy Market Assessment.” Based on a set of assumptions about technology, energy, climate, human behaviors, and the structure of the economy, the assessment identifies five key findings as follows:

  1. Canada’s energy demand growth is slowing, while the sources to meet these demands are becoming less carbon intensive;
  2. With greater adoption of new energy technologies, Canadians use over 15 percent less total energy and 30 percent less fossil fuels by 2040;
  3. Energy use and economic growth continue to decouple;
  4. Canada’s energy mix continues to become more diverse, adding more renewables; and
  5. Canadian oil and natural gas production increases, with price and technology changes influencing production in the future.

The report predicts that energy generation from renewable sources will increase in 2040 to represent 12 percent of all electricity generation. It concludes, that given the higher demand in reducing carbon emissions and the increase in biofuel blending rates, the costs of renewables will likely drop.


 
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