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.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 7, 2019, Representative Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), in partnership with Senator Ed Markey (D- MA), released the outline for the Green New Deal, a policy package designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the transformation of the U.S. economy. The outline includes highlights on the systemic impact from climate change, particularly on women, indigenous populations, deindustrialized and migrant communities, the poor, communities of color, depopulated rural communities, low-income workers, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth. Stating that climate change poses a direct threat to the U.S. national security, the outline of the Deal makes it the federal government’s duty to pass its measures. These duties include transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy; creating millions of high-wage jobs; ensuring economic security for everyone; investing in infrastructure and industry; ensuring clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, access to healthy food, and a sustainable environment; and promoting justice and equity that currently prevent oppression repair.  According to Ocasio-Cortez’s outline, all Green New Deal goals should be addressed in ten years through:

  • Resiliency building against climate change-related disasters;
  • Pollution elimination;
  • Expansion of renewable and zero-emission energy sources;
  • Spurring growth in clean manufacturing;
  • Promoting sustainable farming;
  • Building a sustainable food system;
  • Provision of resources, training, and education; and
  • Public investment in research and development (R&D), among other measures.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the development of spatial models, from a BETO-funded project, to determine how forest management can produce biofuels, restore at-risk salmonids, and reduce the risk of wildfires. Conducted by scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the study assessed the impacts of thinning forests on habitats, which include benefits to the environment and the economy. While PNNL researchers are focused on using a model to relate forest treatments to streamflow and temperature and ORNL researchers are focused on models linking streamflow and temperature, USFS is using a model to evaluate synergies among thinning effects, which includes biofuel feedstock production. For further details on how the study supports the biomass industry, click here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture has announced the AGRI Biofuel Blending Infrastructure Grant to provide funding for biofuel blending infrastructure equipment. In hopes of promoting economic growth and environmentally friendly practices in Minnesota’s biofuels industries, the Grant aims to develop new or enhanced markets that improve blending outcomes, including but not limited to increasing sales and greater access to fuels. The Grant is open to Minnesota-based organizations that are biofuel producers, blending and supplying fuel businesses, and petroleum fuel blenders/distributions. Funds can be used for equipment purchase and its installation or associated costs. The project eligibility requires that the equipment continues to operate until the grant contract expires, the equipment be installed in Minnesota, and that it is compatible with the biofuel-petroleum blends. The amount available ($650,000 in 2019) allows for various grants to be given, and cannot exceed $199,000 of grants per applicant. Applications are due no later than 4:00 p.m. (CST) on Friday, April 12, 2019. For the full request for the proposal, click here.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 4, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced a revised agenda for the 2019 Project Peer Review that will take place in Denver, Colorado, on March 4-8, 2019.  An annual event hosted by BETO, this is an opportunity for BETO to present early-stage development projects across its technology areas and have the projects reviewed by experts from industry, academia, and other federal agencies.  The updated agenda includes sessions on Catalytic Upgrading, Performance-Advantaged Bioproducts and Separations, Advanced Algal Systems, Feedstock Supply and Logistics, and Lignin Utilization, among others.  The event is open to the public, and includes presentations from over 300 researchers.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 28, 2019, Growth Energy, an ethanol supporters group, submitted joint comments with the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) to the Government of Ontario, Canada, in support of the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan (Plan). The Plan outlines the government’s commitment to addressing climate change through the protection of land, air, water, and reduction of waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Posted by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Plan would increase ethanol use in gasoline by 15 percent in 2025, increase the use of renewable gas and fuels, establish emission performance standards for large emitters, and provide financial assistance for emissions reduction initiatives.  Pleased with the Ontario Government’s proposal to increase the ethanol content of gasoline, Growth Energy and USGC highlight the “tremendous benefits to the public” it will provide through lower GHG emissions and levels of other pollutants, better fuel properties, and economic benefits to Canada’s agricultural economy. The letter also reassures Ontario that the increase in demand from a move to 15 percent ethanol (E15) will be met. The two organizations provide additional information on the approval and use of E15 in the U.S., with a note that since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of this rule in 2011, retail and wholesale of E15 continues to grow. The letter concludes by emphasizing once more the substantial advances to Ontario’s goals should the proposed Plan be implemented. According to the letter, the goals and promises of the Plan are not only achievable, but also would still support consumer choice and ensure compliance flexibility and transparency.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 29, 2019, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Geoff Cooper, submitted a letter to EPA Acting Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Reset Rule. Addressing EPA’s final RFS rule that would be released in Spring 2019 resetting statutory RFS blending obligations for 2020, 2021, and 2022, as well as biomass-based diesel blending obligations for 2021 and 2022, the letter reflects RFA’s expectations as EPA completes the rulemaking. RFA would like EPA to use the Reset Rule “as an opportunity to adjust future implied blending obligations for conventional renewable fuels” accounting for three considerations:

  1. The 500 million gallons of renewable fuel waived improperly from the 2016 standards;
  2. The 232 million Renewable Identification Number (RIN) write-off from the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining and Marketing, L.L.C. bankruptcy settlement; and
  3. The 2.25 billion RIN values attributable to 48 small refinery exemptions granted in 2016 and 2017.

In his letter, Mr. Cooper claims that these three considerations resulted in ethanol plant idling/shutdown, layoffs, and decreased demand and prices for farmers. Mr. Cooper, therefore, requests that the aforementioned considerations be accounted for in the implementation of the Reset Rule, stating that the rule “provides the perfect vehicle for EPA to make appropriate adjustments to ensure the statutory volumes are met” and “satisfies the Congressional intent behind the RFS program.”

Tags: RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In January 2019, scientists at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, published a study on the application of enzymatic polymerization techniques in the preparation of sustainable furan-based copolyesters. With increased content of aromatic units, two different synthetic approaches are introduced in the article. Financially supported by the Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education, the study provides the necessary background to design sustainable, high-performance polymers that can provide an alternative to plastics made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET, which is a petroleum-based material used in plastics, is able to keep the fizz in drink bottles because of its barrier properties. The new furan-based copolyesters have been discovered to have the same barrier-like properties, providing an opportunity for the conversion of renewable sources into polymeric materials.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 29, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Building Technologies Office (BTO) announced funding for up to $42 million in project selections to support early-stage research and development (R&D) on residential and commercial building technologies for energy efficiency. According to DOE EERE BTO, buildings currently use 75 percent of U.S. electricity, accounting for 40 percent of U.S. overall energy usage.  Aiming to assist customers and businesses to save energy costs and drive domestic economic competitiveness, a total of 46 research projects were selected as a result of three fiscal year (FY) 2018 funding opportunity announcements (FOA). The FOAs focused in three major areas: (1) Building Energy Efficiency Frontiers & Innovation Technologies; (2) Solid State Lighting; and (3) Building America. Each focus area includes subcategories establishing the scope of the R&D projects. Under the first focus area, $19.5 million was granted to 19 different research projects. The other two focus areas received $11 million and $11.5 million, respectively.

Tags: DOE, EERE

 
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