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 July 3, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was holding a public hearing for the proposed rule “Renewable Fuel Standard Program:  Standards for 2019 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2020” on July 18, 2018, at 9:00 a.m. in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  83 Fed. Reg. 31098.  The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on July 10, 2018.  83 Fed. Reg. 32024.   The notice states that the public hearing will provide interested parties the “opportunity to present data, views, or arguments concerning the [proposed rule],” and “EPA may ask clarifying questions during the oral presentations but will not respond to the presentations.”  Parties wishing to testify at the hearing should notify Julia MacAllister at (734) 214-4131 or via e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by July 13, 2018.  EPA will be posting a complete set of documents related to the proposal for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2018-0167.  Comments on the Proposed Rule are due by August 17, 2018.  More information on the proposed rule is available in our blog item “EPA Releases Proposed Rule Setting 2019 RFS Requirements.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Procurement and Property Management announced it was amending the Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement to add 12 sections that designate product categories within which biobased products will be afforded federal procurement preference by federal agencies and their contractors via a final rule.  83 Fed. Reg. 31841.  The Federal Register publication states that this final rule “designates the proposed product categories within which biobased products will be afforded Federal procurement preference” and that “USDA has determined that each of the product categories being designated under this rulemaking meets the necessary statutory requirements; that they are being produced with biobased products; and that their procurement will carry out the following objectives of section 9002:  to improve demand for biobased products; to spur development of the industrial base through value-added agricultural processing and manufacturing in rural communities; and to enhance the Nation’s energy security by substituting biobased products for products derived from imported oil and natural gas.”
 
The final rule revises the definition of the following categories in an effort to clarify or add examples of intermediates that can be included in each of these categories:

  • Intermediates -- plastic resins (revised to include the term “polymers”);
  • Intermediates -- chemicals (revised to list additional materials such as viscosity reducers, rheology modifiers, adhesion agents, polyols, and polymers);
  • Intermediates -- paint and coating components (revised to add additional examples of paint and coating components, such as humectants, open time additives, and polymers); and
  • Intermediates -- binders (revised to expand on the types of chemicals that typically make up binders, to include examples of materials that binders can be used to formulate, and to include the phrase “binders are generally polymers or polymer precursors (such as epoxies) and include the polymeric materials used to formulate coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers”).
This final rule will become effective on August 9, 2018.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 2, 2018, Midwest AgEnergy announced that the North Dakota Industrial Commission, a division of North Dakota’s State Department of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas, had awarded it a $83,810 grant to research using North Dakota barley to produce ethanol with a protein concentrate byproduct for use in aquaculture.  This would be the first ethanol produced North Dakota from a feedstock other than corn, and would include an expansion of the Dakota Spirit AgEnergy (DSA) ethanol plant.  "We're looking to move ahead with a more formal study on a barley protein concentrate project," stated Jeff Zueger, CEO of Midwest AgEnergy, the parent company of DSA.  "If built, it would be a co-located process at DSA that would dehull and mill barley to produce high protein feed and a feedstock for the ethanol process."


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 5, 2018, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd announced that it had developed a 100 percent biobased, thermally formable, biodegradable material, that is suitable for furniture applications.  This product is an attractive alternative to wood and other biocomposite materials that are already available in the market, with the added benefit of formality and coloring properties.  "All the goals we set were achieved: the material is 100% bio-based, cellulose fibres account for a significant proportion, it looks good and it has excellent performance characteristics," states Lisa Wikström, Research Team Leader from VTT.  At the end of the product life-cycle, it can be re-used, composted (degrading into carbon dioxide and water), or burned for energy.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed S.3042 -- Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) with a vote of 86-11. This bill includes mandatory funding for Energy Title programs, including the Biomass Research and Development Initiative; the Biobased Markets Program; the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Product Manufacturing Assistance Program; the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels; the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP); and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). In addition to securing funding for a range of bioenergy programs, the legislation also expands the types of renewable chemical and biobased product technologies that are eligible for funding. The U.S. House of Representatives version of this bill, H.R. 2, was passed on June 21, 2018, and does not include mandatory funding for Energy Title programs. While this funding was not included in H.R. 2, a previous vote to repeal the Energy Title programs was defeated in the House on May 17, 2018, by a vote of 75-340, signaling strong bipartisan support of the programs. (See the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) Blog post “Bipartisan Support Keeps Energy Title Programs In Farm Bill.”) The differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill will be resolved in committee.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 19, 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (National Academies) published a press release announcing the availability of a final report entitled Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology.  According to the National Academies, the final report concludes that “[s]ynthetic biology expands the possibilities for creating new weapons -- including making existing bacteria and viruses more harmful -- while decreasing the time required to engineer such organisms.”  Some malicious applications of synthetic biology that may not seem plausible right now could become achievable with future advances.

The final report, which builds on and supersedes an interim report released in August 2017, explores and envisions potential misuses of synthetic biology, including concepts that are regularly discussed in open meetings.  In the interim report, the Committee on Strategies for Identifying and Addressing Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology proposed a strategic framework intended to identify and prioritize potential areas of concern associated with the field and to help biodefense analysts as they consider the current and future synthetic biology capabilities.  The Committee designed the framework for analyzing existing biotechnology tools to evaluate the dangers at present, understand how various technologies compare with and complement each other, and assess the implications of new experimental outcomes.  More information is available in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) memorandum.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) issued a new report, Moving Beyond Drop-In Replacements: Performance-Advantaged Biobased Chemicals Workshop Summary Report, that summarizes presentations and discussions from a workshop BETO held in June 2017 to gather stakeholder input on the research and development necessary for novel biobased compounds and functional replacements.  DOE states that performance-advantaged biobased products and functional replacements can offer many advantages to the U.S. bioeconomy.  The conclusion section of the report states that performance-advantaged biobased products present an important opportunity for the bioeconomy, and the ideal novel biobased compound would achieve the following:

  • Allow for new functionality in end products and generate new markets for manufacturers of biobased materials;
  • Increase the value of domestic biomass resources and provide a new revenue stream for biorefineries; and
  • Reduce the environmental impact of some manufacturing processes.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 27, 2018, representatives from 11 European companies and universities gathered in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, to kick-off the EU-funded Rewofuel project.  This three-year, €19.7 million (about $23 million) project will demonstrate and evaluate how to best use wood residues from the forest industry to produce biofuels, with a long-term goal of starting new biorefineries across Europe. Rewofuel is a collaborative project that is expected to run for three years, and is being worked on by SEKAB E-Technology, Peab Asphalt, Sky NRG, Global Bioenergies, Neste Engineering Solutions, Repsol, Ajinomoto, Eurolysine, IPSB, TechnipFMC, and Linz University.  Jean-Baptiste Barbaroux, Chief Corporate Officer at Global Bioenergies, said of the project, “By combining technologies and know-how from the leading biofuels actors across Europe, the project Rewofuel will be able to demonstrate the increasingly important role of using forest materials in the European renewable energy transition. We look forward to contributing directly to the European climate and energy targets.”


 

 
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