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 November 13, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the submission for review of an information collection request (ICR) on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  83 Fed. Reg. 56319.  The Federal Register notice states that purpose of this submission is to obtain OMB approval of an ICR that consolidates some existing collections.  By consolidating the existing collections and recordkeeping updates, EPA is aiming to create a new, consistent, and easily understandable format to report burden and cost estimates related to the RFS program.  Additionally, the ICR requests approval of updates to the recordkeeping and reporting burden along with cost estimated in December 2017.  EPA requested comments on this ICR for a 60-day period.  The November 13, 2018, notice extends the request for public comments by an additional 30 days.  Additional comments may be submitted on or before December 13, 2018.  The estimated burden approximates 566,665 hours per year, with a total estimated cost of $57,457,330 per year.  The cost estimate includes $0 of annualized capital or operation and maintenance costs.

Tags: EPA, RFS, OMB, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 13, 2018, the European Parliament (EP) announced its approval of new targets for renewables and energy efficiency rates to be achieved by 2030.  According to the press release, “by 2030, energy efficiency in the [European Union (EU)] has to have improved by 32.5%, whereas the share of energy from renewables should be at least 32% of the EU’s gross final consumption.”  Highlighting the crucial role of second generation biofuels rather than first generation biofuels which lead to land use changes, the EP declared that the latter will no longer count towards the EU energy goals from 2030.  Starting in 2019, the plan is to phase out first generation biofuels gradually until it reaches zero.  By December 31, 2019, member states will be required to present a ten-year national energy and climate plan, which outlines the national measures that will be taken.

Tags: Biofuel, EU

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 6, 2018, Neste, a BRAG member, announced its partnership with Clariant to develop new sustainable material solutions. While Clariant concentrates on specialty chemicals, Neste consists of one of the leading companies providing renewable diesel and drop-in chemical solutions. In the announcement, Neste outlined the phases of the partnership, as follows:
 
Phase 1: The companies will start to replace fossil-fuel based ethylene and propylene with monomers from renewable feedstock.
 
Phase 2: The companies will develop alternative sustainable solutions from renewable raw materials for plastics and coatings.
 
The two phases are designed to allow the two companies to increase their biobased products, while reducing dependency on crude oil and climate emissions. Neste’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Peter Vanacker, stated that the “[c]ollaboration marks an essential step forward in Neste’s quest to become a preferred partner as a provider of sustainable chemicals solutions for forerunner brands.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 31, 2018, the Canadian National Energy Board released its 2018 report on energy supply and demand projections to 2040: “Canada’s Energy Future 2018: An Energy Market Assessment.” Based on a set of assumptions about technology, energy, climate, human behaviors, and the structure of the economy, the assessment identifies five key findings as follows:

  1. Canada’s energy demand growth is slowing, while the sources to meet these demands are becoming less carbon intensive;
  2. With greater adoption of new energy technologies, Canadians use over 15 percent less total energy and 30 percent less fossil fuels by 2040;
  3. Energy use and economic growth continue to decouple;
  4. Canada’s energy mix continues to become more diverse, adding more renewables; and
  5. Canadian oil and natural gas production increases, with price and technology changes influencing production in the future.

The report predicts that energy generation from renewable sources will increase in 2040 to represent 12 percent of all electricity generation. It concludes, that given the higher demand in reducing carbon emissions and the increase in biofuel blending rates, the costs of renewables will likely drop.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 30, 2018, Earthjustice and the Clean Air Task Force submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a petition “to amend its ‘aggregate compliance’ approach to the definition of biomass under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) … to prevent the conversion of native grasslands.”  The petition was filed on behalf of 11 organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club, and urges EPA’s Administrator Andrew Wheeler to amend regulations related to land permissibility for renewable biomass production.  Under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act’s (EISA) RFS, land conversion for the production of renewable fuel sources is restricted to agricultural land cultivated prior to the enactment of the ruling that is nonforested or uncultivated.  Meant to ensure that growing renewable fuel sources would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, the petition claims that these requirements are not being implemented by EPA due to an aggregate compliance system for measuring land use.  Instead, green groups are requesting that EPA use an individualized compliance approach in evaluating biofuel producers to assure compliance with EISA’s land use restrictions.  The petition also requests that EPA require additional “proof that only EISA-compliant land is used to grow crops displaced by renewable biomass production.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 30, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the topics for 2019 funding opportunities.  Amongst the program offices that are participating in this solicitation, is the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, who will be hosting an informational webinar on November 6, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. (EST) as an opportunity to ask the DOE Program Managers any questions about DOE funding opportunities.  The 90-minute webinar requires registration and allows for the submission of questions prior to the event.  Important upcoming dates regarding the submission funding applications include:

  • Funding Opportunity Announcement:  November 26, 2018;
  • Letter of Intent Due Date:  December 17, 2018;
  • Non-response Letter of Intent Feedback Provision:  January 7, 2019;
  • Application Due Date:  February 4, 2019;
  • Award Notification Date:  April 29, 2019; and
  • Start of Grant Budget Period:  June 10, 2019.

‚ÄčBoth the award notification and the start of the grant budget period dates are subject to change.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 30, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a statement by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., and FDA Deputy Commissioner Anna Abram regarding FDA’s new action plan to advance plant and animal biotechnology innovation.  Aimed at ensuring the safety of plant and animal biotechnology products and avoiding unnecessary barriers to future innovation, the Action Plan focuses on three key priorities:

  1. Advancing public health by promoting innovation;
  2. Strengthening public outreach and communication; and
  3. Increasing engagement with domestic and international partners.

The statement includes an indication that FDA will be seeking public input in the coming year.  Once input is received, the first step in implementing the new action plan will be the adoption of “a comprehensive policy framework for the development and regulatory oversight of animal biotechnology products, including for intentionally genetically altered animals and the food and drug products derived from them.”  According to their statement, this policy framework will be modern and flexible, accompanied by two guidance documents in 2019.  The guidance documents are intended to provide greater clarity on how FDA will be applying regulatory oversight in evaluating risk profiles of various products.  In addition to these elements, the Action Plan also highlights FDA’s commitment to efforts with both national and international partners in fostering efficiency and cooperation.


 
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