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

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a proposed rule on June 6, 2019, on the movement of certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms.  84 Fed. Reg. 26514.  The proposed rule would revise the regulations regarding the movement, including the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain GE organisms in response to advances in genetic engineering and APHIS’ understanding of the plant pest risk posed by them, “thereby reducing regulatory burden for developers of organisms that are unlikely to pose plant pest risks.”  APHIS notes that the proposed rule “would mark the first comprehensive revision of the regulations since they were established in 1987.”  It would provide “a clear, predictable, and efficient regulatory pathway for innovators, facilitating the development of new and novel [GE] organisms that are unlikely to pose plant pest risks.”  Comments on the proposed rule are due by August 5, 2019. For further details, see the Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C) memorandum here.

Tags: USDA, APHIS

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 5, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the Conversion-Ready Feedstock Webinar Series. These webinars will be primarily educational to showcase research strategies that enable biomass feedstock management variability and supply chain improvements in biomass quality and consistency. Two webinar sessions will be part of this series.  The first webinar was held on June 13, 2019, and the second webinar will be held on June 20, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. (MDT). Interested parties may register by accessing DOE BETO’s notice here.

Tags: DOE, BETO

 

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

On June 10, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Ceremony, where four awards were given to academics, scientists, and business innovators across the industry sector. Promoting environmental and economic benefits of developments in green chemistry, EPA, in partnership with the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute granted four awards. Congratulated by EPA Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, the 2019 awardees included:

  • Academic Award -- Professor Sanjoy Banerjee, The City University of New York – Energy Institute, Rechargeable Alkaline Zn-MnO2 Batteries for Grid Storage Applications;
     
  • Small Business Award -- Kalion, Inc., Microbially Produced High-Purity Glucaric Acid for Diverse Uses;
     
  • Greener Synthetic Pathways Award -- Merck & Co., Innovating for a Greener Future: Development of a Green & Sustainable Manufacturing Process for ZerbacaTM; and
     
  • Greener Reaction Conditions Award -- WSI, TRUpathTM.
Dunn thanked ACS for its support and highlighted the importance of the awarded technologies in supporting economic growth while reducing energy use, hazardous chemistry, and protecting water. Dunn’s remarks included a note on the need for more people who chose to be in the science field, especially those who support green chemistry. Dunn also pointed out the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention’s (OCSPP) work in implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) measures, stating that EPA staff is currently working “fast and furiously.”
 
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. congratulates all ACS Green Chemistry Challenge Award Winners for their invaluable contributions to a more sustainable and renewable future.
Tags: EPA, GCCA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 3, 2019, 19 members of Congress submitted a letter to U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means, Richard Neal (D-MA), addressing the expired Second-Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second-Generation Biofuel Plant Property, and the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credits. Urging Congress to take action on the extension of these tax credits, the letter emphasizes the importance of these credits in stabilizing capital intensive, higher-risk technology projects and in allowing more time to plan for longer-term policy around alternative fuels and infrastructure. The extension request proposes that the House Ways & Means Committee consider a multi-year extension of these credits to reassure the second-generation biofuels, the rural economy, and the refueling infrastructure industry.

Tags: Biofuel, Tax

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 3, 2019, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report to the U.S. Senate on the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) program effects on gas prices and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Titled Renewable Fuel Standard: Information on Likely Program Effects on Gasoline Prices and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, the report suggests that increases in gas prices outside of the Midwest (which have now diminished) were associated with the nationwide RFS, and that variations in gas prices likely depended on state-by-state transport and storage of ethanol costs. In addition, price increases occurred in states that did not have the initial infrastructure to blend and store ethanol. Regarding GHG emissions, the report states that RFS has had a limited effect, if any. GAO provided two reasons for this limited effect: (1) RFS relies on conventional corn-starch ethanol, which has smaller potential to reduce GHG emissions; and (2) most corn-starch ethanol has been produced in plants that are exempt from emission reduction requirements. In addition, GAO reports concerns that RFS will not meet the GHG emissions reduction goals that it envisioned by 2020. Lastly, GAO reports that the renewable identification numbers (RIN) had a small effect on prices. EPA analysis identified areas of concern within RINs, which included possible fraud in the market, price volatility, and concerns about the impact they have on small refiners.

Tags: RFS, GHG

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 7, 2019, DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Office published in the Federal Register a notice requesting the nomination for candidates to fill vacancies on the Biomass Research and Development (R&D) Technical Advisory Committee. Nominations are being accepted until June 30, 2019, and require the nominee’s name, resume, biography, and any letters of support available. The Committee advises DOE and USDA points of contact with respect to the Biomass R&D Initiative and priority technical biomass R&D needs, and makes written recommendations to the Biomass R&D Board.

Tags: DOE, EERE, Biomass

 

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

Recently, the State of New Jersey released its draft 2019 Environmental Management Plan (EMP), which aims to achieve 100 percent carbon neutral electricity generation and maximum transition to electrification of the building and transportation sectors by 2050. In addition to these goals, New Jersey also intends to reduce GHG emissions to meet the New Jersey Global Warming Response Act (GWRA) GHG limits. GWRA’s 2050 target requires that New Jersey reduce GHG emissions by 80 percent from 2006, which is equivalent to 25.4 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide. Doing so in the most cost effective and beneficially economic way is critical to the state, which will be considering the entirety of its energy demand. Part of New Jersey’s plan is to reduce carbon by incentivizing:

  • The deployment of renewable generation;
     
  • Carbon neutral distributed energy resources;
     
  • Upgrades to the grid that handles variable electricity loads; and
     
  • Decreased energy demand through efficiency and conservation measure.
The full draft 2019 EMP can be accessed here.
Tags: GHG

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 31, 2019, the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS) launched Clean Growth Future Vision, a document outlining FPS’ vision for cutting carbon through the development of biofuels. FPS is a trade association for the liquid fuels distribution industry and ancillary interests in the United Kingdom (UK) and the Republic of Ireland. FPS urges the government to be technology neutral and to consider options other than electrification. Guy Pulham, FPS’ Chief Executive, commented that in the short-term, consumer encouragement to make energy efficiency changes are necessary to reduce carbon emissions. In the long-term, Pulham stated that FPS intends to work with relevant bodies and consumer groups to ensure various solutions can be found for different homes and budgets. FPS will also work on testing low-carbon fuels and working with the supply chain to reduce fossil fuel content in liquid fuels. The goal is to reach zero fossil fuel content by the Paris Agreement deadline.

Tags: Biofuel

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 30, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released in final the regulatory changes allowing gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) to take advantage of the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver that applies to E10 during the summer months. This means that E15 can now be sold year-round in the U.S. without additional RVP control rather than just eight months of the year. EPA also released in final the rulemaking regulatory changes to modify certain elements of the renewable identification number (RIN) compliance system under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. Aiming to increase transparency to the market and deter price manipulation, the reforms to RIN markets include a requirement for public disclosure when RIN holdings exceed specified thresholds, and the collection of additional data to improve EPA oversight.

Tags: EPA, E15, Biofuel

 
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