On March 13, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a pre-rule notice to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on "Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Mixtures." This action shows that EPA is moving forward on a rulemaking under TSCA Sections 8(a) and 8(d) to obtain data on chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is a process used in oil and gas production.
EPA explained in the Fall 2013 Unified Agenda that although the Agency "has granted the petitioners' request to initiate a rulemaking proceeding under TSCA sections 8(a) and 8(d), the Agency is not committing to a specific rulemaking outcome. EPA intends to first develop an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) and initiate a stakeholder process to provide input on the design and scope of the TSCA reporting requirements that would be included in a proposed rule. EPA anticipates that States, industry, public interest groups, and members of the public will be participants in the process. The stakeholder process will bring stakeholders together to discuss the information needs and help EPA to ensure any reporting burdens and costs are minimized, ensuring information already available is considered in order to avoid duplication of efforts. The dialogue will also assist EPA in determining how information that is claimed Confidential Business Information could be aggregated and disclosed to maximize transparency and public understanding." The pre-rule notice, including links to EPA's statements on the subject in 2012 and 2013 Unified Agendas, is available online.
On March 12, 2014, Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), shared with his colleagues a vision plan that was developed to guide OCSPP's work over the next several years. The document, entitled Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Envisioning Accomplishments in 2017, outlines several actions that will be taken by OCSPP regarding pesticide registration, existing chemicals, the EDSP, creating a whole new Design for the Environment (DfE), and employing green solutions. Actions that will be taken in implementing OCSPP's vision are also outlined. Of particular note to biobased chemical producers and stakeholders, EPA "[w]ill have begun to look at additional elements of a chemical's life-cycle to factor into sustainability evaluations." This is yet another expression of commitment by EPA to ensuring sustainability is a component of all decisions at EPA. The document is available online.
On March 18, 2014, EPA issued a press release seeking nominations for EPA's Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. Biobased chemical producers and stakeholders are urged to consider submitting a nomination, or at the least preparing to submit one for next year. The award is prestigious and well worth the time and effort it takes to submit a compelling nomination application. Nominations are due to the Agency by April 30, 2014. EPA's press release about the awards and entry process is available online.
On March 17, 2014, the Minnesota House of Representatives adopted the report of the Committee on Agriculture Policy as amended on H.F. No. 2456. The report has been re-referred to the Minnesota House of Representatives Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance. H.F. 2456 would create renewable chemical and advanced biofuel capital equipment loans for qualifying Minnesota renewable chemical and advanced biofuels producers. A copy of the report as amended is available online.
U.S. cellulosic biofuels producer, KiOR, filed its annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week. In the report, the company expresses concerns about sufficient funding to continue operations moving forward. Although KiOR has received a conditional funding commitment of up to $25 million from its founder Vinod Khosla, receipt of the funding depends on certain production milestones that may not be met. In December 2013, KiOR reported a $347.5 million net loss, and in January 2014, the company announced that it would temporarily idle its Columbus, Mississippi, plant while it makes plant improvements. KiOR announced this week that it would idle the plant indefinitely. This development is not good news for the biofuels industry, since EPA has largely relied upon KiOR's production estimates to set the annual cellulosic renewable volume obligations for the federal Renewable Fuel Standard.
Tetra Pak, a company providing solutions in food processing and packaging headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, announced on March 13, 2014, the launch of the first biobased cap for "gable top" packages (cartons). According to the company's press release, this biobased version of TwistCap OSO 34 is manufactured using high density polyethylene (HDPE) derived from sugar cane. A copy of Tetra Pak's press release on the announcement is available online.
On March 14, 2014, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) and Hawkins, Inc. introduced Chill-Pro, a U.S. Department of Agriculture certified heat transfer fluid. Chill-Pro is made with ADM Evolution Chemicals™ propylene glycol. According to ADM's press release on the announcement, "the benefits of Chill-Pro over petroleum-derived products include the fact that the majority component, propylene glycol, is 100% biobased and has lower cradle-to-gate greenhouse gas emissions." A copy of ADM's press release is available online.
On March 17, 2014, it was announced that British manufacturer Dyson is working with the University of Cambridge's Institute for Manufacturing and the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) on a project to analyze the high level economic and technical feasibility of using biopolymers in a closed loop process, which may ultimately improve the ability to recycle consumer products. A copy of CPI's press release is available online.
On March 12, 2014, the House Energy and Commerce Environment and the Economy Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the Discussion Draft of the Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA). CICA, which was released last week by Subcommittee Chair John Shimkus (R-IL), is designed to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Biobased and Renewable Products and Advocacy Group (BRAG™) reported on the release of CICA. That report is available online.
Eleven witnesses testified at the hearing. Several witnesses were critical of CICA, stating that it offered less protections than those included in S. 1009, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), which is the bipartisan Senate TSCA reform bill introduced last May by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA). Senators Vitter and Tom Udall (D-NM) are currently working to revise S. 1009 to address concerns that have been raised over that bill's level of protection. A detailed summary of the hearing prepared by Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is available online.
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced on March 13, 2014, the first draft Priority Products (PP) under the Safer Consumer Products Regulations (SCPR). The three draft PPs are Children's Foam-padded Sleeping Products Containing Tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) Phosphate (TDCPP); Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Systems Containing Unreacted Diisocyanates; and Paint and Varnish Strippers and Surface Cleaners Containing Methylene Chloride. The Initial PP List will include consumer products sold in California that each contains at least one chemical from a list of more than 1,200 chemicals that may cause harm to public health or the environment. Companies that produce the listed products are expected to analyze whether there are safer chemicals that could be used to make them. A more detailed memorandum prepared by B&C is available online. A copy of DTSC's announcement is available online.