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 April 17, 2019, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, spoke at a press conference alongside Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig, on how the approval of small-refinery exemptions (SRE) for the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blend levels would undermine RFS in an irreversible way.  IRFA’s Executive Director, Monte Shaw, pointed out that under current conditions all a refinery needs to show significant disproportionate economic harm to be granted an SRE is to purchase Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN).  RINs, also known as compliance credits, can be purchased for as little as eight cents, which undermines RFS and breaks President Trump’s promise to protect the 15-billion-gallon RFS.  Shaw concludes:  “[t]he bottom line is this:  If you grant SREs under these circumstances with eight-cent RINs, then what EPA is really saying is that they will always grant SREs and the hope of a true 15-billion-gallon RFS is dead.”

Tags: IRFA, RFS, Biofuel

 

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 8, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) announced a new prize competition to support and accelerate the development of pumped storage hydropower (PSH). The prize, titled Furthering Advancements to Shorten Time (FAST) Commissioning for Pumped Storage Hydropower (PSH), seeks innovative solutions and technologies that can assist PSH developers facing non-regulatory challenges. It would also support DOE’s goal to reduce PSH time commission from ten years to five. FAST PSH will provide winners with cash and in-kind laboratory support prizes. Prize competition concepts could include standardization of equipment, application of advanced manufacturing, new layouts, creative construction management, or improved construction equipment. In the first stage of the competition, ten finalists will be selected for 50 hours of support over three months from the FAST national laboratory partners. This initial stage will be in preparation for a pitch contest with up to $950,000 of combined cash prizes and vouchers support, and up to three winners. FAST PSH is part of a larger effort conducted by DOE in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest Laboratory. Part of this effort also involves the development of a baseline framework to assist industry and understand costs, time, and risk burdens associated with PSH. The first stage of the prize competition closes on May 24, 2019.

Tags: DOE, EERE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 4, 2019, DOE EERE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the appearance of 23 journal articles from some of the nation’s leading biomass experts in the journal Frontiers in Energy Research. The collection of articles, titled Advancements in Biomass Feedstock Preprocessing: Conversion Ready Feedstocks, focuses on the many years of research and development into biomass preprocessing that has been largely supported by DOE EERE’s BETO. According to the announcement, researchers from Idaho National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory were part of more than 100 authors representing more than 30 research institutions, universities, and private companies who contributed to the special issue containing these 23 articles.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is offering an opportunity for funding to advance a bioenergy or biochemical production technology toward commercial scale through the construction and operation of a pilot plant. To be eligible for the AGRI Bioenergy/Biochemical Pilot Project Grant, applicants must be a Minnesota-based company, learning institution, local government unit, Native American Tribal community, or individual (including for-profit businesses and colleges/universities). Eligible grant projects will be for the development of innovative bioenergy or biochemical production technology ideas that have advanced beyond the proof of concept and are at the scaling up to pilot-plant stage. Up to $150,000 will be awarded and must be used for:  (1) wages, software, or anything else necessary to perform the tasks of the grant project’s work plan; and (2) equipment needed for the project implementation. Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. (CDT) on April 26, 2019.  For further details, see the Request for Proposals.


 

Last week, from April 3-5, 2019, Biofuels Digest hosted its annual Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference (ABLC) in Washington, D.C.  Among those present were various industry stakeholders, government representatives, and federal agency staffers. Innovative technologies were presented and much networking was done. The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group’s (BRAG®) presence was welcomed and provided an opportunity for industry stakeholders to gain insight into regulatory developments in the biobased sector, particularly during the Regulatory Workshop that took place on April 4, 2019. The workshop was moderated by Richard Engler, Ph.D., Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.  While Engler covered timelines for approval of new substances, Ray Matulka, The Burdock Group, covered new food or feed additives, which is especially important if fermentation byproducts will be used as animal feed. Graham Noyes, Noyes Law Firm, covered California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program, its success, and similar other state-level efforts.
 
A large number of panels held during the conference circled back to concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program and measures associated with its implementation. Highlighting the importance of the intersection between policy and commerce, panelists in the Bioeconomy Policy Forum were particularly frustrated with the number of small refinery exemptions under the Trump Administration. The fact that, under President Trump’s two years, a greater number of small refinery waivers has been granted than during the Obama Administration’s eight years was highly criticized.  Panelists went as far as stating that these measures under the RFS Program are leading to demand destruction for renewable fuels.
 
In agreement with industry, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) expressed frustration with the small refinery exemptions granted thus far. Despite these obstacles, however, Senator Grassley also stated that he is encouraged by the Trump Administration in working on short- and long-term solutions for issues that often create barriers towards alternative energy goals. Senator Grassley ensured his support for industry, emphasizing alternative energy’s key role in supporting national security, the economy, good environment, and energy independence.

Tags: ABLC, Biofuel

 

 

 
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