- Redshift, “Bamboo Transcends the Tropics for Carbon-Negative Construction”
- New Age, “Trump’s EPA Grants 31 Refinery Waivers from Biofuel Laws, Angering Corn Lobby”
- Plastemart.com, “New Bio-Based Thermoplastic Adhesive for the Bonding of Compostable Plastic Coating”
- AgWeek, “EPA Official Talks about Future of Biofuels and Carbon Sequestration”
- FoodBev Media, “Unilever Debuts Magnum Tubs Created from Recycled Plastic”
- Tech Explorist, “Solar Energy Turns into Biofuel without Solar Cells”
- Fast Company, “This Startup Created Compostable Plastic Wrap That’s Made from Shellfish Shells”
- newsnow, “New Zealand’s Gene Editing Laws Need an Overhaul, Country’s Top Scientific Body Says”
- Food Processing, “USDA Mulls Organic Gene-Altered Crops”
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
On July 26, 2019, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) announced that he is working with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on the Restore Environmental Sustainability to Our Renewable Energy (RESTORE) Act. In an effort to end what Toomey describes as an “egregious form of corporate welfare that hurts the environment and drives up the cost of everything,” the RESTORE Act would abolish the corn ethanol mandate under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Toomey further argues that, because the RFS forces drivers to purchase billions of gallons of corn ethanol annually, it also harms the environment and causes prices to rise, not only of gasoline, but also of damaged engines and groceries. Calling for a phaseout of the ethanol mandate, the RESTORE Act focuses on transitioning to advanced, lower carbon fuels for the country’s transportation needs.
The RESTORE Act is not Toomey’s and Feinstein’s first attempt to abolish the corn ethanol mandate. In 2015, Feinstein and Toomey offered an amendment to the Keystone pipeline bill that would have repealed the corn ethanol mandate under RFS: the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015. This Feinstein-Toomey amendment suggested the same modifications the RESTORE Act now proposes and the language used to describe the need for these changes is similar in both Toomey’s July 2019 and Feinstein’s 2015 announcements. Using the exact same arguments that were used in 2015, the RESTORE Act demonstrates Toomey and Feinstein’s determination to abolish the corn ethanol mandate.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On August 6, 2019, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced four grants aiming to expand biofuel access and production to advance the state’s renewable energy efforts. Awarded to four recipients by MDA’s Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) Program, the grants total more than $500,000. One Bioenergy/Biochemical Pilot Project Grant was awarded, providing funding to advance bioenergy and biochemical production technology to a commercial scale. Three Biofuel Blending Infrastructure Grants were awarded to expand the use of blending infrastructure equipment in Minnesota.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
On July 31, 2019, EPA held a public hearing in Ypsilanti, MI, to obtain stakeholders’ input on its proposed rule to set Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVO) and 2021 biomass-based diesel volume. Among the various stakeholders providing oral statements to EPA were representatives from Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Hero BX, and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). Most of the oral comments provided were in opposition to the proposed rule. Industry representatives highly critized the proposed rule, stating that the RVOs proposed were unreasonable and would negatively impact economic growth through demand destruction and job losses. Many stakeholders also expressed disappointment that, in its proposed rule, EPA failed to account for approved Small Refinery Exemptions (SRE) granted. In agreement with other stakeholders’ comments, Growth Energy’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Chris Bliley, stated that progress made thus far under the RFS Program is being threatened by this proposal. Bliley also added that too many exemptions have been granted in secrecy by EPA. Criticism was also made regarding compliance costs and its negative impact on jobs should this rule be approved. Tim Keaveney, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Hero BX, urged EPA to raise the RVOs for biodiesel to enable further industry growth. Overall, there seemed to be a general agreement that the proposed rule betrays President Trump’s commitment to maintaining the RFS Program.
- The Intelligencer, “Buckingham Center Offers Biotech Startups $50 Million”
- Science Codex, “Solar Energy Becomes Biofuel without Solar Cells”
- ScienceDirect, “Development of a Biorefinery Scheme to Produce Biofuels from Waste Cooking Oil”
- Sierra Sun Times, “U.S. Senators Renew Bipartisan Effort to Repeal Ethanol Mandate”
- Feedstuffs, “EPA Issued RFS Exemptions against DOE Advice”
- The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Trump Administration Official Visits Delaware County Refinery to Hear Gripes about Ethanol”
- Forbes, “Researchers Develop Technology to Harness Energy from Mixing of Freshwater and Seawater”
- Business Recorder, “US Ethanol Industry Nearing Breaking Point”
- The Hindu Business Line, “Adding Sugar and Salt to Catalyse Production of Biofuels”
- Successful Farming, “Update 1 – EPA Chief Defends Biofuel Waivers in Meeting with Farm Senators – Sources”
- World Economic Forum, “Cheese Energy Could Power Hundreds of UK Homes”
- Iran Front Page, “Iran Ready to Tackle Biotechnology Sanctions: VP”
- Digital Journal, “Switching to Biobased Plastics: IDTechEx Research Asks Why So Slow?”
- The Yucatan Times, “Yucatan Cenotes to Be Sanitized with Biotechnology”
- World Economic Forum, “Your Next Pair of Sneakers Could Be Made from Coffee”
- CleanTechnica, “NextEra Energy Predicts 50% Renewable Energy in US by 2030”
- inhabitat, “Sustainable Toiletries Packaged in Soap Aim to Eliminate Single-use Plastics”
- Futurism, “A Finnish Startup Is Making Food Out of Carbon Dioxide”
- Progressive Farmer, “Agencies Continue to Modernize Biotech”
- laboratory news, “Algal Biofuels Face Diverse Pathogens”
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On July 12, 2019, the House Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute co-hosted the 22nd Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO and Policy Forum. The forum brought together government agencies, businesses, and trade associations to showcase renewable energy technologies and discus sustainable public policy options. Ruth McCormick, Director, Federal and State Affairs, Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), focused on the economic benefits of renewable energy saying that shifts to using a diverse set of clean and affordable energy resources, technologies, and services have resulted in substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions while also supporting over three million American jobs. Video recordings from this forum are available now.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On July 5, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Procurement and Property Management published a final rule that will amend the Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement (Guidelines) to add 30 sections designating the product categories within which biobased products would be afforded procurement preference by federal agencies and their contractors. These 30 product categories contain finished products that are made, in large part, from intermediate ingredients that have been designated for federal procurement preference. Additionally, USDA is amending the existing designated product categories of general purpose de-icers, firearm lubricants, laundry products, and water clarifying agents. The rule will be effective on August 5, 2019.
According to the final rule, when USDA designates by rulemaking a product category for preferred procurement under the BioPreferred Program, manufacturers of all products under the umbrella of that product category that meet the requirements to qualify for preferred procurement can claim that status for their products. To qualify for preferred procurement, a product must be within a designated product category and contain at least the minimum biobased content established for the designated product category. With the designation of these specific product categories, USDA invites manufacturers and vendors of qualifying products to provide information on the product, contacts, and performance testing for posting on its BioPreferred website. USDA states that procuring agencies will be able to use this website “as one tool to determine the availability of qualifying biobased products under a designated product category.”
For further information, see Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s memorandum on the final rule. In the memorandum, we link to the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) and its interest in biobased products.