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 Kathleen M. Roberts 

On June 13, 2018, representatives of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) and representatives of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff to discuss the two groups’ white paper, “Proposal for a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory Representation and Equivalency Determinations for Renewable and Sustainable Bio-based Chemicals.”  BRAG and BIO members provided a presentation for EPA staff that outlined the regulatory challenges and market impendence facing the biobased industry related to current naming conventions.  BRAG and BIO look forward to further dialogue with EPA on this crucial issue.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 8, 2018, petitioners in the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) case Coffeyville Resources Refining, et al. v. EPA filed their final briefs in the case challenging EPA’s final rule that established:  (1) the annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel (BBD), advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel that apply to all motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported in the year 2017; and (2) the applicable volume of BBD for 2018.  81 Fed. Reg. 89746 (Dec. 12, 2016).  Final briefs were filed by petitioners Coffeyville Resources Refining & Marketing, LLC, et al. and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).  The lengthy briefs reiterate the petitioners’ arguments that EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in relying on incomplete and flawed information and methodology when setting the cellulosic biofuel requirements and other 2017 obligations, and that EPA violated 42 U.S.C. § 7545(o)(2)(B)(ii) when it set the 2018 BBD volume based on factors that are not among those Congress instructed the Agency to consider, including the 2018 advanced-biofuel volume.  Respondent EPA and intervenors for EPA also filed final briefs.  EPA argued that its use of the cellulosic waiver was reasonable and reasonably used and applied; the D.C. Circuit has previously upheld its cellulosic biofuel projection methodology; and it properly assessed and set the BBD volumes for 2018.  Oral argument in this case has not yet been scheduled.  All of the briefs are available on Inside EPA’s website (subscription required).

Tags: Biofuel, RFS

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 12, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced that it would be hosting the Chemical Catalysis for Bioenergy (ChemCatBio) Consortium’s Webinar titled “Accelerating the Catalyst Development Cycle” on June 27, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. (EDT).  ChemCatBio Consortium is a research and development consortium dedicated to identifying and overcoming catalysis challenges for biomass conversion processes.  BETO states that the webinar will “highlight transition metal carbides as a class of materials” and “demonstrate how the integration of predictive computational modeling, tailored materials synthesis, and in-situ characterization capabilities within the ChemCatBio Consortium is accelerating the development of [the] complex but promising catalysts.”  BETO states that the objectives of the webinar will address the challenges of the realization of sustainable routes to fuels and chemicals from renewable feedstocks, such as biomass, and that addressing these challenges “requires advanced catalysts with controlled active sites that promote desired transformations, while resisting deactivation, and that can be produced cost-effectively at relevant scales.”  Registration is available online.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 5, 2018, Brazil’s National Energy Policy Council (CNPE) set a target to reduce fuel emissions ten percent by 2028. These targets are part of the RenovaBio law, passed in December 2017, that aims to meet Brazil’s commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement by increasing the share of ethanol and biodiesel in Brazil’s fuel mix and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Andre Rocha, president of the National Sugarcane/Ethanol Forum, a group of 16 state sugar/ethanol producers associations, told Bloomberg Environment (subscription required) that the ten percent target “is not very ambitious, but is sufficient to encourage biofuel producers’ to expand output.”
 
The passage of RenovaBio will set up a carbon credit market for biofuel producers to trade carbon dioxide emissions credits with fuel distributors. Fuel distributors must either purchase credits or additional biofuels to meet annual emissions reductions targets. This carbon credit market will go into effect in 2020, with the carbon credits expected to result in $341 billion in biofuel investments and 8.3 billion additional gallons of ethanol and biodiesel consumption by 2028. On June 11, 2018, The Wilson Center hosted a meeting with a delegation from Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy to discuss the implementation of RenovaBio. The slides from the presentation are available online.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 29, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced it was seeking nominations for candidates to fill vacancies on the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee (Committee).  The Federal Register notice states that:

The committee members may serve two, three-year terms and committee membership must include: (A) An individual affiliated with the biofuels industry; (B) an individual affiliated with the biobased industrial and commercial products industry; (C) an individual affiliated with an institution of higher education that has expertise in biofuels and biobased products; (D) 2 prominent engineers or scientists from government (non-federal) or academia that have expertise in biofuels and biobased products; (E) an individual affiliated with a commodity trade association; (F) 2 individuals affiliated with environmental or conservation organizations; (G) an individual associated with state government who has expertise in biofuels and biobased products; (H) an individual with expertise in energy and environmental analysis; (I) an individual with expertise in the economics of biofuels and biobased products; (J) an individual with expertise in agricultural economics; (K) an individual with expertise in plant biology and biomass feedstock development; (L) an individual with expertise in agronomy, crop science, or soil science; and (M) at the option of the points of contact, other members.  

Further, nominations this year are needed for the following categories: “(I) An individual with expertise in the economics of biofuels and biobased products; (H) an individual with expertise in energy and environmental analysis; and (J) an individual with expertise in agricultural economics.”  The deadline for nominations is June 30, 2018.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 4, 2018, Bloomberg Environment (subscription required) reported on the planned spinoff of DowDupont Inc’s Corteva Agriscience (Corteva) unit. This split, which is expected to occur by June 1, 2019, was originally announced on February 26, 2018, stating that Corteva will become a separate company quickly followed by Dow and DuPont as they split back into two companies. Corteva will focus on new gene-editing technology, including CRISPR-Cas9 that allows it to use genes from within a plants own DNA to create new traits, including pest resistance. Because Corteva is using existing genes rather than introducing foreign genes into plants, it has so far enjoyed lighter regulatory scrutiny than other genetically engineered crop projects. Corteva also intends to use big data to help farmers calculate specific quantities of seeds and chemicals to maximize production while minimizing costs. The emerging field of digital agriculture is expected to have a significant impact on the industry.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 4, 2018, Proctor & Gamble (P&G) announced the launch of Downy’s first plant-based line of fabric conditioner. In addition to powering the manufacturing process completely with renewable wind powered electricity at a zero-manufacturing waste to landfill facility, the product formula includes 70 percent biobased ingredients and the bottles are made from 25 percent post-consumer recycled content.  The 70 percent claim has been certified through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred program, which provides third-party verification of a product’s biobased content. This program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and expanded by the 2014 Farm Bill to increase the development, purchase, and use of biobased products.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 17, 2018, a proposed amendment to repeal the Farm Bill’s energy title programs was defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 75-340. These title programs provide grants and loan guarantees to rural lenders and businesses, as well as research and development support for renewable energy products. While these programs account for less than one percent of the total amount that the federal government spends on agriculture and nutrition programs, they provide a strong return on investment and provide vital access to capital for rural businesses. Lloyd Ritter, Director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition, stated, “The House of Representatives’ overwhelming vote shows that there is strong, bipartisan support for the energy title programs. These programs support more than 1.5 million U.S. workers who manufacture biobased products and help rural America adopt new technologies for renewable energy economic opportunities. The final farm bill must include an Energy Title, with strong mandatory funding and necessary updates for the vital programs.”

Tags: Farm Bill

 
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