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 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

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 16, 2019, the Dutch Department of Defense announced that the Dutch Air Force is taking the next steps in reducing its carbon footprint given better affordability of biobased fuels. Provided with biokerosene, the Air Force intends to increase gradually the mixing percentage of biofuels and eventually have all of its equipment fly on biofuel mixtures. The Dutch goal is to achieve 20 percent less dependency on fossil fuels by 2030, and 70 percent by 2050.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 16, 2019, the Dutch Department of Defense announced that the Dutch Air Force is taking the next steps in reducing its carbon footprint given better affordability of biobased fuels. Provided with biokerosene, the Air Force intends to increase gradually the mixing percentage of biofuels and eventually have all of its equipment fly on biofuel mixtures. The Dutch goal is to achieve 20 percent less dependency on fossil fuels by 2030, and 70 percent by 2050.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 18, 2019, Assistant Professor Dr. Vatsan Raman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced a new biosensor that is capable of reporting on a microbe’s biofuel production capacity from within the cell. An expensive process, “in search of the best biofuel-producing microbes, scientists may need to make millions of genetic variants” to find the right one. This new biosensor developed by Dr. Raman and his team, however, greatly facilitates the aforementioned process by triggering green fluorescence in cells that are ideal to make biofuel-type molecules. In addition to its new function, the scientific team states that the biosensor has a variety of other potential applications in the field of biochemistry. The full study can be accessed here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In January 2019, scientists at the nova-Institut GmbH, in Hurth, Germany, published a study on the sustainability of first and second generation sugars as a resource for the biobased chemical industry. The study, which includes a comprehensive sustainability assessment, “shows that first generation sugars are as advantageous as second generation sugars for a feasible and sustainable resource strategy of Europe’s bio-based chemical industry.” Despite the negative connotation of first generation feedstocks portrayed in public discussions, the study results indicate that these public concerns are not in any manner based on scientific evidence. Carried out in a context of shifting sugar markets and feedstock sustainability for biobased products and chemicals, the study analyzes 12 different sustainability criteria, concluding that all of the researched feedstocks of sugars offer significant strengths and weaknesses for a feasible climate change strategy in the European Union (EU).


 

 
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