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 June 27, 2019, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a rule requiring the gradual transition of fixed-route airport shuttles into 100 percent zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) by 2035. Applied to public and private shuttles that serve the state’s 13 largest airports, including rental car agencies, hotels, and parking facilities, the regulation was approved with an expectation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 500,000 metric tons. According to CARB, the regulation will also benefit shuttle fleet owners through an estimated $30 million in reduced fuel and maintenance costs. Currently, six airports and private businesses serving nine airports already have zero-emission shuttles operating in the state. This new rule presents “a great opportunity for showcasing this process,” stated CARB Executive Officer, Richard Corey. CARB states that airport shuttles are well-suited to zero-emission technology because they operate on short, fixed routes up to 200 miles per day with low average speeds in a stop/go pattern. When operating in this manner, ZEVs are advantageous from an energy and fuel efficiency perspective. The rule will require annual reporting of vehicles to CARB in 2022, and end in 2035 with full compliance of ZEV airport shuttles.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 27, 2019, U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) submitted a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue asking him to stop threatening energy jobs in Louisiana. In his letter to Secretary Purdue, Senator Kennedy outlines concerns related to Small Refinery Exemptions (SRE) issued by EPA under the RFS program. Of particular concern to Senator Kennedy are reports that Secretary Purdue continues to attempt to influence EPA decisions on small refinery waivers, despite clear measures in the Clean Air Act that prohibit him to do so. Senator Kennedy states that Secretary Purdue’s “efforts in this matter not only disregard congressional intent of the law, bur also threaten thousands of jobs in Louisiana and across the country.” While emphasizing consistency to statutory requirements, Senator Kennedy also highlights his opposition to EPA’s proposal to increase the total blending requirement in the reset rule or 2020 RVO rule. Arguing that increases of the blending requirements or changes to SRE would affect Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) prices, and therefore, jobs, Senator Kennedy ends the letter by threatening to block Secretary Purdue’s three USDA nominees awaiting confirmation before the Senate.

Tags: USDA, RFS

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 28, 2019, 13 U.S. Senators signed a letter to President Donald J. Trump expressing concerns about media reports that USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue is attempting to influence EPA decisions on small refinery waivers under RFS. Similar to the letter submitted to Purdue himself by Senator Kennedy, the 13 Senators express opposition to Secretary Purdue’s involvement in the SRE waivers decision-making process. Also referencing the Clean Air Act and its statutory requirements, the letter urges President Trump to prohibit Secretary Purdue from influencing or interfering with decisions concerning SRE by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The view expressed in the letter is that “any decisions to further delay, reduce, or deny hardship relief to small refineries, or reallocate the obligations of small refineries to other refineries,” would be the result of Secretary Purdue’s impermissible interference. The letter notes that federal courts would likely view any of the outlined attempts in the same way.

Tags: USDA, RFS, CAA

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 27, 2019, the Government of Canada’s Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) opened the application process for a grant to develop next generation biobased foam insulation products. Called the Plastics Challenge, this funding opportunity seeks solutions that result in foam insulation products (either spray foam or rigid foam board) that:

  • Are predominantly derived from Canadian forest residue;
     
  • Have similar insulation values (within 20 percent) as currently available petroleum-based versions;
     
  • Would have similar cost (within 20 percent) as currently available versions;
     
  • Are less flammable;
     
  • Are fully recyclable at end of life; and
     
  • Would generate less GHG emissions during manufacturing.
Applications must be submitted prior to 2:00 p.m. (EDT), August 27, 2019.

 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

An Executive Order (EO) issued by President Trump on June 14, 2019, would require all federal agencies and departments to evaluate the need for their current advisory committees established under Section 9(a)(2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). 
 
Entitled “Executive Order on Evaluating and Improving the Utility of Federal Advisory Committees,” the EO also would require each federal agency to terminate at least one-third of its current committees by September 30, 2019.  The EO targets committees:

  • That have accomplished their stated objectives;
     
  • Where the subject matter or work of the committee has become obsolete;
     
  • Where the primary functions of the committee have been assumed by another entity; or
     
  • Where the agency determines that the cost of the operation of the committee is excessive in relation to the benefits to the federal government. 

The EO allows agencies to count committees terminated since January 20, 2017, toward the one-third goal.
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has 22 FACA committees and thus must terminate at least seven of them under the terms of the EO.  EPA’s FACA committees (and associated EPA offices) are:

  • Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee (Office of the Administrator/Office of Children’s Health Protection);
     
  • Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (Office of Air and Radiation);
     
  • Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (Office of the Administrator/Office of Science Advisory Board);
     
  • Environmental Financial Advisory Board (Office of Water);
     
  • Environmental Laboratory Advisory Board (Office of Research and Development);
     
  • Board of Scientific Counselors (Office of Research and Development);
     
  • Science Advisory Board (Office of the Administrator/Office of the Science Advisor);
     
  • Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Advisory Committee (Office of the Administrator);
     
  • Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP));
     
  • Good Neighbor Environmental Board (Office of Administration and Resources Management);
     
  • Governmental Advisory Committee to the United States Representative to the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (Office of Administration and Resources Management);
     
  • Great Lakes Advisory Board (Office of the Regional Administrator, Region 5);
     
  • Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest System Advisory Board (Office of Land and Emergency Management);
     
  • Human Studies Review Board (Office of Research and Development/Office of the Science Advisory);
     
  • Local Government Advisory Committee (Office of the Administrator/Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations);
     
  • National Advisory Committee to the United States Representative to the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (Office of Administration and Resources Management);
     
  • National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (Office of Administration and Resources Management);
     
  • National Drinking Water Advisory Council (Office of Water);
     
  • National Environmental Education Advisory Council (Office of the Administrator/Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education);
     
  • National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance);
     
  • Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (OCSPP); and
     
  • Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (OCSPP).
Tags: Federal

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 18, 2019, Representative Mike Thompson, (D-CA), Chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, introduced the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019. The bill includes:

  • An extension of the $1-per-gallon tax credit for biodiesel and biodiesel mixtures;
     
  • An extension of the small argi-biodiesel producer credit of 10 cents per gallon through 2020;
     
  • An extension of the second generation biofuel producer credit through 2020;
     
  • A $1.01-per-gallon nonrefundable income tax credit for second generation biofuel sold at retail into the fuel tank of a buyer’s vehicle, or second generation biofuel mixed with gasoline or a special fuel and sold or used as fuel (previously known as the cellulosic biofuel producer credit);
     
  • An extension of the alternative fuel refueling property credit through 2020;
     
  • A credit for the installation of alternative fuel vehicle refueling property, which includes property that dispenses alternative fuels, including ethanol, biodiesel, natural gas, hydrogen, and electricity;
     
  • An extension of the special allowance for second generation biofuel plant property through 2020 and an additional first-year 50 percent bonus depreciation for cellulosic biofuel facilities; and
     
  • The Section 45 tax credit for renewable energy would be extended through 2020, or one year in the case of wind facilities.

By extending a number of provisions that expired in 2017 and 2018, and preemptively extending provisions set to expire in 2019, Representative Thompson aims to reverse the trend of allowing important tax provisions to expire before being renewed, and rather consistently extend them on a forward-looking basis to provide greater certainty for taxpayers.

Tags: Tax, Biofuel

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 20, 2019, Reuters reported that President Trump directed members of his Cabinet to review EPA’s expanded use of waivers exempting small refineries from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This decision came after Trump traveled to the Midwest to promote the Administration’s decision to lift a ban on summer sales of E15 and farmers warned that increases in smaller refinery exemptions functionally negated the expected benefits of E15 sales. RFS has become increasingly controversial as environmental activists argue that the government should phase out incentives for first generation biofuels derived from food biomass like corn ethanol in favor of second and third generation biofuels that use non-food waste and algae to produce biofuels. For now, EPA has delayed action on 39 pending small refinery waivers from 2018, and has said in a statement that the “EPA will continue to work with the White House, USDA, members of Congress and other stakeholders to ensure the Renewable Fuel Standard’s continued stability.”

Tags: RFS

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 28, 2019, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) will host the first public workshop on 1,4-Dioxane in Personal Care and Cleaning Products. 1,4-Dioxane, a solvent and stabilizer for chlorinated solvents, which is produced from both petroleum sources and from biobased ethylene oxide, has been identified by DTSC as a likely human carcinogen and an emerging contaminant found in beauty, personal care, hygiene, and cleaning products. DTSC is requesting additional information from stakeholders about potential adverse impacts from 1,4-dioxane in consumer products; its presence in personal care and cleaning products; and the feasibility of removing it from these products. To view the background document and submit comments, please visit DTSC’s CalSAFER portal. The comment period closes on August 21, 2019.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 18, 2019, Neste, a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, and LyondellBassell announced the first commercial scale parallel production of biobased polypropylene and biobased low-density polyethylene. This project used Neste’s renewable hydrocarbons, derived from sustainable biobased raw materials, such as waste and residue oils, to produce food packaging bioplastics marked as Circulen and Circulen Plus by LyondellBasell. "We are excited to enable the plastics industry to introduce more bio-based material into its offering. It is very satisfying to see Neste's renewable hydrocarbons performing perfectly in a commercial scale production of bio-based polymers, providing a drop-in replacement option to fossil materials," stated Neste's President and CEO Peter Vanacker.


 
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Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) would like to thank all of the participants that made “TSCA: Three Years Later” such a success. Speakers, including Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator, OCSPP, EPA, and Lynn R. Goldman, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., Michael and Lori Milken Dean and Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, provided timely insights into EPA’s implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) now and what should be expected going forward. If you missed the conference on Monday, it is not too late to catch up! A full recording and copies of all presentations are available now on the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) website.


 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 13, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the launch of the first stage of the Waves to Water Prize. A competition seeking to accelerate the development of wave energy powered desalination systems and address water security, the prize consists of four stages. The first concept stage is now open for applications until September 11, 2019. U.S. Under Secretary of Energy, Mark W. Menezes, stated that “[t]he start of the Waves to Water Prize marks an important step toward driving growth and progress in the marine energy sector as well as spurring innovation to develop desalinization technologies that will have a global impact.” DOE is offering winners up to $2.5 million in prizes for the advancement of their solutions. From concept, to technical design, to creating a prototype, the competing systems will produce clean water using only waves as power sources. This first stage includes $200,000 in prizes with up to $10,000 for up to 20 winners. Led by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Water Power Technologies Office, the competition seeks interdisciplinary solutions that are modular and easily transportable, ultimately serving clean water needs for remote communities or disaster relief scenarios. Guidelines for application submissions can be found here.

Tags: DOE, Water

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 14, 2019, U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Integrity Act of 2019. This Act aims at increasing transparency and predictability to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) small refinery exemption process under the RFS program. Requiring small refineries to petition for exemptions by June 1 of each year, according to the two leaders, this legislation would hold EPA accountable for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) it sets every November. It is known that, since 2018, many complaints have been made regarding President Trump’s EPA liberally providing exemptions to refineries with no back-up information or congressional oversight. This Act attempts to address this issue by making key information associated with exemptions made publicly available. Additionally, if passed, the Act would require EPA to report to Congress on the methodology it uses when granting these small refinery exemptions.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced on June 17, 2019, a report entitled Toxic Consequences: Trump’s attacks on chemical safety put our health at risk. EDF notes that “[c]oncern over toxic exposures and a lack of confidence in the badly outdated chemical safety system” led to Congress passing the Frank R. Launtenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Launtenberg Act) to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The bipartisan bill “finally” gave EPA “the power to strengthen health protections for American families and the environment.” EDF claims that the Trump Administration “is seeking to dismantle the new authorities and mandates under the law with the goal of shifting policies to serve the chemical industry’s agenda,” however. According to EDF, EPA has taken the following actions that undermine the Launtenberg Act:

  • Approving new chemicals without regard for the law or public health;
     
  • Ignoring real-life exposures when evaluating risks of existing chemicals; and
     
  • Blocking or weakening bans of toxic chemicals.
EDF concludes that “without a drastic change to EPA’s current direction on chemical safety, we will be forced to endure the toxic consequences of its mistakes for decades to come.”
Tags: EDF, TSCA

 
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