On June 17, 2015, the Australian government made a bipartisan agreement to tax Australian-produced biodiesel and ethanol. Cleaner fuel grants for renewable and biobased diesel fuels will end by July 1, 2015, as will the Ethanol production grant. An excise rate on biodiesel will be phased in starting in 2015-2016 at zero percent, and will increase annually, eventually reaching 50 percent of the diesel excise rate in 2030-2031. The Biofuels Association of Australia approved of the agreement, saying it will "allow the industry to focus on the longer term and provides a sustainable footing for the biofuels industry to grow and delivers on the government objective of moving biofuels into the excise framework."
On June 12, 2015, the USDA began accepting applications for grants under the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). Through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), BIP will provide up to $100 million in grants to support infrastructure development to make renewable fuel options, including E15 and E85, an option for more American consumers. CCC funds will pay a portion of the costs associated with the installation infrastructure and fuel pumps used to distribute higher ethanol blends to consumers. States are required to match CCC funding with the state funds going towards infrastructure improvements or other program costs, including marketing, education, and administrative costs. States can apply for competitive grants to expand the infrastructure for distribution of higher blends of renewable fuel by July 15, 2015, on www.grants.gov by searching the funding opportunity number "USDA-FSA-2015-22."
On June 4, 2015, EPA published a notice in the Federal Register for a Public Hearing on the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. As part of the hearing, EPA will consider amendments to the annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biodiesel, and advanced biofuels that are added to fuel produced in the U.S. or imported for 2014, 2015, and 2016, and will consider amendments to the proposed biodiesel volume for 2017. The hearing will be held on June 25, 2015, at 9:00 a.m., at the Jack Reardon Center, 520 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas 66101.
On June 2, 2015, federal appellate judges decided that EPA's methodology for evaluating small refineries (those with crude oil throughput averaging 75,000 barrels or less per day) for exemptions from the RFS program was fair. Hermes Consol. LLC v. EPA, No. 14-1016 (D.C. Cir. June 2, 2015). Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA is allowed to exempt small refiners from the annual blending requirements if compliance would cause ''disproportionate economic hardship." There was a blanket exemption available for all small refineries in 2011 that expired in 2013. The case was brought by Hermes Consolidated, LLC, doing business as Wyoming Refining Company, a small refinery that applied for exemption from the 2013 renewable fuel blending requirements but was denied after EPA made mathematical errors while evaluating financial hardship. The court has ordered EPA to reconsider the petition from Hermes Consolidated, LLC, but has upheld EPA's overall methodology for conducting small refinery exception analyses.
B&C has no involvement in or knowledge of the award selection process.
This year's Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge winners will be announced at the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Ceremony, July 13, 2015, at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.
The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge, administered through a partnership between EPA and the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI), promotes the environmental and economic benefits of developing and using novel green chemistry, and has significantly reduced the hazards associated with designing, manufacturing, and using chemicals.
Since 1996, the 98 winning technologies have made billions of pounds of real, measurable progress, including:
- 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and solvents eliminated each year -- enough to fill almost 3,800 railroad tank cars or a train nearly 47 miles long;
- 21 billion gallons of water saved each year -- the amount used by 820,000 people annually; and
- 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents released to air eliminated each year -- equal to taking 810,000 automobiles off the road.
Past winners include:
- An environmentally safe alternative to toxic and bioaccumulating ships' hull coatings;
- A water-based, catalytic method used to produce gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel from sugar, starch, or cellulose;
- A process to create tiny micelles, or "nanoreactors," in water, within which a variety of chemical reactions can occur, eliminating the need for organic solvents;
- A polymer that coats titanium dioxide to reduce pigment clumping in paint, so less pigment needs to be used to achieve the same results, lowering carbon footprint, water use, and release of volatile compounds; and
- An enzyme that increases the ability of cellulose fibers to bind together, therefore reducing the paper's weight without sacrificing performance, and making it possible to use higher percentages of recycled pulp.
Detailed descriptions of all the winning technologies, processes, and discoveries are available on EPA's Green Chemistry website.
Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards are awarded in six categories:
- Focus Area 1: Greener Synthetic Pathways;
- Focus Area 2: Greener Reaction Conditions;
- Focus Area 3: The Design of Greener Chemicals;
- Small Business (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by a business with annual sales of less than $40 million);
- Academic (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by an academic researcher); and
- Specific Environmental Benefit: Climate Change (for a technology in any of the three focus areas that reduces greenhouse gas emissions).
Information and instructions on nominating a product, process, or technology for an award are available on the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award website.
ACS GCI offers a wealth of resources regarding green chemistry, including the brochure "Design Principles for Sustainable and Green Chemistry and Engineering," the What's Your Green Chemistry? YouTube channel, and Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog.
Journalists interested in covering the safer, cleaner, greener chemistry that is being done by this year's winning chemistry innovators are encouraged to contact the EPA and ACS representatives listed below. There are both compelling business and consumer stories to be told about the companies and scientists who are working to make the products and services traded every day more profitable, sustainable, and renewable.
On June 1, 2015, the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) voted to pass the new Low iLUC Risk Biomass Criteria and Compliance Indicators standard. The standard was approved as an optional module for those undergoing RSB certification, and will be used to show that biomass is produced with low indirect land use change (iLUC), resulting in little impact on food production and biodiversity. It is important to demonstrate how iLUC in order to prove that a biobased alternative to a traditional product is better for the environment than the original product. iLUC takes into account the indirect carbon emissions released due to expansion of croplands for biomass production, in part due to clearance of forest areas.
On May 20, 2015, the House voted to pass the
COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806)
(COMPETES), a research funding bill that was originally
enacted in 2007 to further U.S. scientific and
technological advantages. The new version of COMPETES
increases funding for nuclear energy and fossil fuel
research programs, while cutting clean and renewable
energy programs. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will have
funding reduced by 30 percent, or nearly $500 million,
while the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy
will see funding cut by 50 percent. The
Administration has threatened to veto the bill, stating
that "the Administration believes that H.R. 1806 would be
damaging to the Administration's actions to move American
competitiveness, innovation and job growth forward through
a world-leading science, technology and innovation