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 October 9, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Army on a collaborative project designed to develop hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for civilian and military use. The MOU was signed by the U.S. Department of Army’s Tank & Automotive Research Development and Engineering Command (TARDEC) and the DOE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO). It aims to facilitate the research and development of innovative hydrogen and fuel cell technologies portfolios. The research will include studies on hydrogen production from domestic resources, infrastructure development, and fuel cells for transportation. Additionally, the MOU will allow for further exploration of a DOE FCTO concept called H2@ Scale, which “explores the potential for wide-scale hydrogen production and utilization in the United States to enable resiliency of the power generation and transmission sectors.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 9, 2018, during a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he will order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to expand its sales of corn ethanol. This action, which farmers across the U.S. have been waiting for, will allow for year-round sales of 15 percent biofuels (E15) ethanol blends. Currently, E15 sales are restricted during the summer months in certain states, limiting the expansion of the market space for biofuels. Well received by many in the industry, the announcement was particularly appreciated by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, which applauded President Trump’s decision in a press release. Brent Erikson, BIO’s Executive Vice President, emphasized in his statement that “[a]llowing E15 to be sold year-round will help unleash the potential of cellulosic biofuels by creating more demand and marked headroom for the next generation of biofuels.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 27, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the user fees final rule for the administration of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the fourth and remaining framework rule to be issued in final under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg).

This final rule, that amends 40 C.F.R. Parts 700, 720, 723, 725, 790, and 791, “describes the final TSCA fees and fee categories for fiscal years 2019, 2020, and 2021”; “explains the methodology by which the final TSCA fees were determined”; “identifies some factors and considerations for determining fees for subsequent fiscal years”; and “includes amendments to existing fee regulations governing the review of premanufacture notices, exemption applications and notices, and significant new use notices.”  The final rule has not been published yet in the Federal Register so an effective date is not yet available; a pre-publication version is available here.

Specifically, EPA is establishing fees applicable to any person required to submit information to EPA under TSCA Section 4; or a notice, including an exemption or other information, to be reviewed by EPA under TSCA Section 5; or who manufactures (including imports) a chemical substance that is the subject of a risk evaluation under TSCA Section 6(b).  EPA is also establishing standards for determining which persons qualify as "small business concerns" and thus would be subject to lower fee payments.  

In the press release announcing the rule, EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler states that this rule will “provide resources needed to support the valuable work EPA does to review chemicals for safety, manage risk as required, and make chemical information available as appropriate.”  During fiscal years 2019-2021, EPA states it will “work to track costs and will use that information to adjust future fees, if appropriate.”

EPA also announced that it will be hosting a series of webinars focusing on making TSCA submissions and paying fees under the final rule.  The first webinar was held on October 10, 2018. Two other webinars are scheduled for October 24, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (EDT); and November 7, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (EST).

More information on TSCA implementation is available on our website under key phrase Lautenberg Implementation.  More information on the TSCA user fees final rule is available in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) detailed memorandum, “EPA Issues Final TSCA Fees Rule.”

Tags: TSCA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In September 2018, researchers Harmen Willemse, from The Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN), and Dr. Maarten van der Zee, from the Wageningen Food & Biobased Research Center, published a White Paper on “Communicating the bio-based content of products in the EU and the US. Analyzing how bio-based content information is exchanged between businesses, consumers, and government, the paper aims to address the significant challenges associated with the various methods used for the determination of bio-based carbon content in bio-based products. The paper further explores three different determination approaches and compares them to U.S. and European Union (EU) requirements. The researchers conclude that awareness of these different determination methods is key in information sharing between businesses, consumers, and government agencies.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In late September 2018, Northwestern University announced a new bioengineering project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under their joint program called the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI). Led by Michael Jewett, professor of chemical and biological engineering, the project aims to combine innovative bioengineering and biotechnology to develop biofuels and bioproducts. It is expected that through the capture of syngas from industrial manufacture companies, before they are released into the atmosphere, biofuel feedstock will be produced. The team intends to develop a cellular factory that will have the ability to metabolize a biofuel by reversing the biochemical process that creates fatty acids from bacteria. The project’s budget (funded by DOE and USDA) is $1.6 million based on a three-year contract.

Tags: DOE, USDA, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 27, 2018, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced its approval of amendments to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The LCFS has been in place since 2011, in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Under the original program, the standard required a ten percent reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels in California by 2020. In 2017 only, the LCFS has successfully led to the replacement of billions of gallons of petroleum and natural gas with renewable and sustainable transportation fuels. Despite its success, however, the approved amendments to the LCFS aim to make the program more flexible and comprehensive. Under the new amendments, the LCFS sets new requirements to the reduction in carbon intensity and added credits for alternative aviation fuels. The LCFS now requires a 20 percent reduction in carbon intensity by 2030, parallel to California’s overall 2030 target in climate change reduction. Additional changes also include the restructuration of rebate programs for utility vehicles into one single pool and a new protocol for carbon capture and storage. For further details on the new LCFS, click here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

Scientists at Indiana University -- Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) partnered on the publication of a study with researchers at Huazong Agricultural University in Wuhan, China, and researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  The study focuses on formerly undiscovered properties of a flower known as Orychophragmus violaceus. Also known as the February orchid, O. violaceus differs from other plant seeds in that it contains unusual fatty acid compounds that had not previously been identified. Bioorganic chemist Robert Minto and researcher Alisen Teitgen, at IUPUI, discovered that the biosynthesis of these fatty acid compounds’ partial cycle leads to more cycles afterward. These properties from the February orchid seed oils lead to higher reduction in friction and wear, and can withstand higher temperature stability, which could make this oil a superior and environmentally friendly lubricant.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has included a new data portal on its website to promote greater transparency on small refineries exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Criticized in the past for its lack of transparency, EPA’s new RFS data portal also provides previously undisclosed information on Renewable Identification Number (RIN) transactions, renewable fuel volume production, average RIN prices, and RIN transaction volumes. The data available dates back to July 1, 2010, which is when EPA started collecting the information provided. EPA intends to update the data portal on a monthly basis.

Tags: EPA, Biofuel, RFS, RIN

 
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