The Green Chemistry Clearinghouse Conference held on September 16, 2014, in San Francisco included several interesting panels discussing topics including California Safer Consumer Products Regulations' (SCPR) recently released Work Plan, the future of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform, and the increasing push by retailers to require information from the supply chain.
Jim Jones, EPA's Assistant Administrator at the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), spoke regarding several EPA activities under TSCA, including but not limited to the schedule for risk assessments of Work Plan chemicals, the recently released proposal to redesign EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE) label, and the ChemView database providing access to health and safety data on chemicals regulated under TSCA. Jones stated EPA will be revising its list of Work Plan chemicals based on recent data indicating that production volumes of certain chemicals have decreased sufficiently to warrant EPA removing these substances for risk assessment and instead selecting other substances.
There also was discussion about another draft bill to reform TSCA to be released shortly, perhaps even this week, that many are hopeful will bridge the gaps in sections of prior bills that have been particularly contentious, including but not limited to the scope of preemption. As discussed at the Conference, the new legislation rumored to be under consideration in the Senate may have significant bipartisan sponsors. This would not increase any likelihood of action this year (zero), but definitely will put an important marker down for the starting point of future attempts to craft a bipartisan bill in 2015. According to trade press reports, last ditch efforts to draft a bipartisan bill cratered in the Senate Wednesday night. Certain environmental groups, specifically the Environmental Working Group, were reported to reject the revised measure claiming it was no better than current law. Whether the bipartisan group intends to surface a Senate bill without Senator Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) support remains to be seen.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and EPA State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEE Action) website has been redesigned. The website provides information on successful efforts to advance energy efficiency across the U.S. It includes initiatives in support of energy efficiency policies and program options at the state and local levels. You can access the SEE Action website here.
On September 12, 2014, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released its much anticipated draft Initial Priority Product Work Plan under SCPR. The Regulations require that DTSC, by October 2014, develop an Initial Priority Product Work Plan that describes product categories it will use to evaluate and identify product-chemical combinations to be added to the Priority Products. The Work Plan is available online and more detailed memoranda from BRAG affiliate Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) about the Regulations and the Work Plan are available online.
DTSC is seeking comments on its Work Plan, which can be submitted using the California Safer Products Information Management System (CalSAFER) until October 13, 2014. DTSC also is holding two workshops, one in Sacramento on September 25, 2014, and one in Cypress on September 29, 2014.
BRAG's full memorandum on the draft Initial Priority Product Work Plan and the seven Priority Products Categories identified is available online. The Work Plan will be discussed in detail at the upcoming 5th Annual Safer Consumer Products Summit -- more information below.
With the draft initial Priority Product Work Plan now released, it is important for manufacturers, importers, and retailers of consumer products in the categories listed by DTSC in the Work Plan to understand and address any issues. The upcoming Safer Consumer Products Summit, of which BRAG is a proud sponsor, will bring together DTSC staff, brand owners, chemical companies, and industry associations to discuss these developments in sessions including:
* "Strategies and Tactics in Response to Initial Priority Products and Work Plan for Future Priority Products"
* "Alternatives Assessments: Where Are We?" -- an interactive roundtable on approaches
* "Managing the Chemical Data, Confidentiality and Trade Secret Challenge"
* "Supply Chain Transformation in Response to Chemical and Safer Products Regulations"
The one and one-half-day summit will feature federal and state decision makers including Meredith Williams, Deputy Director, Safer Products and Workplaces Program, California DTSC; Bob Boughton, Senior Hazardous Substances Engineer, Safer Consumer Products Program, California DTSC; John Katz, Pollution Prevention Coordinator, Region 9, EPA; Alex Stone, Senior Chemist, Washington State Department of Ecology; and Kerry Malinowski, Manager, Safer Chemicals in Children's Products Program, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, as well as major brand owners, chemical companies, and consumer industry associations. The Summit Chair is Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner of B&C, and Of Counsel with BRAG.
BRAG members and friends are eligible for a 15 percent discount on registration for the Safer Consumer Products Summit by using discount code: 141611. For more information and registration details click here.
The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies hosted the first public meeting for the Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops: Past Experience and Future Prospects on September 15-17, 2014. This public meeting was the first of a series of events that are part of NRC's ongoing study to determine the benefits and risks of genetically engineered crops. A webinar related to this study has been scheduled for October 1, 2014, and more information is available online. A transcript of the public meeting held September 15-17, 2014, is available online.
Glowing reviews for the recent Sustainable Futures workshop co-sponsored by the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and George Washington University (GWU) continue to roll in. Attendees at the event included Dr. Anthony Hotton and Omoru E. Emmanuel, of the Nigerian National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Dr. Hotton stated regarding the Sustainable Futures workshop "[t]he training has provided a huge platform for capacity building that will aid [NAFDAC] in strengthening tides for effective regulation of sound chemical management in my country Nigeria." BRAG, an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is in the early planning stages of a West Coast Sustainable Futures training workshop this Fall or Winter. If you would like to receive information regarding the next workshop, please e-mail Heidi Lewis and ask to be put on the list.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has guaranteed a $105 million loan through Bank of America, N.A. to help Fulcrum Sierra Biofuels build a plant in McCarran, Nevada that would convert municipal waste into renewable jet fuel. The total project cost is expected to be $266 million and the plant is predicted to produce 11 million gallons of fuel per year. This loan was guaranteed as part of the Biorefinery Assistance Program that is included in the Farm Bill. The biorefineries are expected to reduce dependence on foreign oil, improve the environment by reducing greenhouse gas, and strengthen local economies. More information on this loan guarantee is available online.
A custom designed circulating fluidized bed (CFB) has been created so that engineers at Southwest Research Institute can convert crude oil and biofeedstocks into refined fuel samples for clients more efficiently than previously possible. The CFB is able to produce half a liter per hour of samples, and is able to test both fast pyrolysis processes as well as fluidized catalytic cracking refinery unit operations. This is in part due to the 15 foot tall, 150 square foot CFB being much larger than conventional testing equipment which produces much smaller quantities of material.
More information on Southwest Research Institute's CFB is available online.
One of the highlights of the year for the biobased and green chemistry community is the annual Green Chemistry and Engineering (GC&E) Conference hosted by the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute (GCI). It is the longest running green chemistry conference in the U.S. and always attracts a prestigious line-up of scientists, advocates, business leaders, academics, and students who come together, compare findings, and discuss the science of the future. A rich treasure trove of videos, presentations, and photos has just been released from the 18th Annual conference, held June 17-19, 2014, in North Bethesda, Maryland, links to which are below.
* 2014 GC&E Conference Presentations -- 132 recorded presentations
* Endangered Elements: Critical Materials in the Supply Chain -- Recorded live broadcast
* ACS Digital Publishing Lab Videos -- Select mini-presentations recorded at the conference
* 2014 GC&E Conference Photos -- Pictures from the conference, student workshop, and ACS GCI Industrial Roundtable Poster Reception
The resources are divided by track:
* Consumer Products
* Critical Materials
* Design for Safer Chemicals
* Greener Processes
* New Chemical Feedstocks
* Organic Chemistry
* Policy and Innovation
Make sure to check out presentations from the BRAG-hosted workshop titled "Regulatory Landscape and Implications for Innovation." Presentations included "Setting Up a New Trend in EPA PMNs -- Using the P2 Page to Your Company's Advantage" by Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner of B&C, and "Regulatory Approvals: The Gatekeepers to Commercialization" by Andy Shafer, Executive Vice President (EVP) of Elevance Renewable Sciences, a BRAG member company.
Don't forget to mark your calendars for the 19th Annual GC&E Conference, July 14-16, 2015, in the Washington, D.C. area! BRAG will again be a sponsor. A call for papers will be sent in early January 2015.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has developed a computational platform known as Systems Biology Knowledgebase, or KBase, designed to help the biological community analyze, store, and share data. The project is led by scientists at DOE's Lawrence Berkeley, Argonne, Brookhaven, and Oak Ridge national laboratories. KBase compiles information on plants and microbes, and the interactions among them with the objective of improving the environment and energy production. KBase can be accessed at http://kbase.us/. More information on KBase and its objectives can be found online.
DOE recently released a notice of intent to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA), "Targeted Algal Biofuels and Bioproducts." The FOA will seek to reduce algal biofuels' projected cost by up to 50% through the creation of valuable bioproducts alongside fuels, thus achieving increased biomass productivity. See online.
On September 3, 2014, POET-DSM's Project LIBERTY in Emmetsburg, Iowa, celebrated its grand opening. This will be the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant to use corn waste as a feedstock, using biochemical conversion technologies (yeast and enzymes) to convert cellulosic biomass into transportation fuels. Project LIBERTY is the second of two DOE-funded cellulosic ethanol biorefineries to come on line within the past year. More information is available on the DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) website. A documentary on the production of cellulosic ethanol at POET-DSM can be viewed online.
As previously reported, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent the final 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on August 22, 2014. Some sides speculate that OMB will need considerable time to review the final action, especially given the 340,000+ comments submitted to EPA in response to the proposal. Others, however, suggest that OMB will forego its allotted 90-day review period and issue the rule in late September or early October. Such a schedule would result in the final rule being published before the November elections. Should OMB pursue the shortened timing strategy, it would result in a very narrow timeframe for parties to advocate changes.
Stakeholders agree that the chances of legislative reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) are small -- and getting smaller as the days progress. Both Hill staff and industry trade representatives acknowledge that focus on mid-term elections and partisan divide, coupled with the limited days on the legislative calendar, make TSCA reform this year unlikely. Thus, while some forward momentum may have occurred over the last years with the Senate bill introduced by Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and the late Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and the House discussion draft from Representative John Shimkus (R-IL), it is clear that significant hurdles are still ahead. How the mid-term elections change the status of Senate control and what impact it will have on TSCA reform is being carefully monitored. Lynn L. Bergeson of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) provided interesting thoughts on TSCA reform in early August. Her thoughts and others' reactions are available online.
Parties with a stake in the TSCA reform arena, including biobased and renewable chemical manufacturers, should take advantage of the pause in ongoing TSCA reform debate and carefully consider what they might need or wish to see in reform legislation. This analysis will be necessary when reform activities begin again – which they assuredly will.
Energy Trends Insider posted a column analyzing the current status of global biofuels. Information for the analysis was derived from the Renewables 2014 Global Status Report, which was issued in June 2014. According to the column author, "the GSR is the most comprehensive report available when it comes to the global renewable energy picture." To view the analysis, go online.
Global Biofuels Demand Slows Down
According to an article posted at Biofuels International, biofuels growth in the 2013-18 period will be modest compared to the 2008-13 period. See online.