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.

On December 16, 2014, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released a report on "Options for Reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard." A copy of BPC's press release on the report, with links to the report and its summary, is also available online. BPC explains that the report results from three meetings of diverse stakeholders throughout 2014. It outlines an inventory of 40 potential regulatory or legislative reforms to the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). BPC in the report concludes that major improvements can occur through reform, but not repeal, of the RFS.

 
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On December 1, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, more commonly referred to as the tax extender bill. This bill extends through 2014 the dollar-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit, as well as the biofuel production tax credit for cellulosic and algae-based biofuels and the special allowance for second generation biofuel plant property. While the Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance is reportedly still working to pass a tax extender bill that would extend these expiring incentives beyond 2014, especially given the fact that the Senate is expected to adjourn for the year today, chances are that the Senate will pass tax extender legislation similar to the House-passed version. If that happens and the President enacts it, these tax credits will be retroactively effective for the entire year of 2014 as the prior tax credits had expired on January 1, 2014. There continues to be uncertainty about the future of the tax credits, as this bill will expire on January 1, 2015, with no guarantee of renewal.

 

 

 

On December 2, 2014, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced over $9 million in grants to support advanced biofuel production and the bioeconomy. More than $5 million in grants awarded to 220 producers nationwide are provided through USDA's Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which was established in the 2008 Farm Bill. Other awards were from USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, the Sun Grant Program, and the Critical Agricultural Materials Program. Recipients of these awards include the National Biodiesel Board, South Dakota State University, and Iowa Sate University.

 
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On November 21, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that a final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014 will not be issued by the end of the year. The compliance deadline for the 2013 RFS will be renewed until the new rule is issued, sometime in 2015. The 2014 RFS was due to be finalized by November 30, 2013. When the rule is released in 2015, it will set standards through 2016 with the intention of making up for long delays in the RFS rulemaking.

Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued a statement on EPA's decision, noting that inaction on the RFS in 2014 results in continued uncertainty for advanced biofuel development. Numerous articles on the EPA announcement were posted, including one in The New York Times.

On December 1, 2014, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) filed a notice of intent to sue EPA for the failure to issue the 2015 RFS by November 30, 2014. In addition, the American Petroleum Institute (API) reportedly communicated to EPA that it intends to evaluate its legal options going forward.

   
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Nominations for the 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Awards are now being accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Nominations for the awards are due December 31, 2014, and the final awardees are expected to be announced in July 2015. The Awards cover six categories: academic; small business; greener synthetic pathways; greener reaction conditions; designing greener chemicals; and climate change. EPA allows companies to re-submit past nomination packets as long as the technology milestone was within the last five years. EPA reassures submitters that it is definitely worth considering another bite at the apple and past winners have, in fact, been based on re-submissions. The Nomination Package for the 2015 Awards is available on the EPA website.


 

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) recently announced three new subtopics related to bioenergy under its SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs:

* Design and Fabrication of Solids Handling for Biomass Conversion Systems -- Grant applications are sought for designs, prototype equipment, and procedures that enable continuous biomass solids handling at a cost ten percent lower than currently available.

* Low-Cost Coatings for Advanced Thermal Processes in Metal Combustors -- Grant applications are sought for the development of low-cost protective coatings for metal combustors. Coating approaches potentially of interest may include, but are not limited to the following: ceramic coatings, alloy coatings, aluminizing treatments, surface modifications/reactive surface treatments, thermal spray, wash coats, vapor deposition or sputtering (if sufficiently low cost), plating, and porcelains/enamels.

* Solid-Liquid Separations for Algal Systems -- Grant applications are sought for the integration of multiple separation technologies for the solid-liquid separation of algae. The applicant should consider as a minimum the following technology options for integration: vacuum filters, pressure filters, hydroclones, screens and/or sieving, and gravity tables.


The projects will help small businesses develop and deliver market-driven clean energy technologies. Small businesses that are selected for any EERE SBIR/STTR funding keep the rights to new technologies they develop and are encouraged to transfer these technologies to the marketplace. More details can be found on the EERE website, including a full list of topics and application instructions. Interested applicants can register for the EERE Cleantech SBIR Webinar on December 8, 2014, from 11:30 a.m. (EST) to 1:00 p.m. (EST).
 


 

Many of the top policymakers, leaders, and stakeholders in the bioeconomy gathered in San Francisco this week for ABLCNext. The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group's (BRAG®) Executive Director Kathleen Roberts participated in the opening panel of the conference, "US Elections, What Happened, What Now," where she and other trade group leaders discussed likely impacts on the bioeconomy with the swing toward Republicans in federal and state races. Regarding the outlook for reform of TSCA with the new Congress, Roberts stated "given the complexity of the existing TSCA regulations and the limited time for the new leadership in Congress to make their mark before the next election season arrives, it seems unlikely that anyone would choose TSCA reform as his/her champion cause. That being said, biobased industry representatives should engage in conversing with key D.C. stakeholders in an effort to ensure their elected officials understand the ramifications of TSCA on their businesses."


ABLCNext progenitor Biofuels Digest revealed the "30 Hottest Companies in Biobased Chemicals & Materials for 2014-15," the "50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy for 2014-15," and the "40 Hottest Smaller Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy for 2014-15" at a reception and awards ceremony on Monday night, November 10, 2014. In recognition of their innovative technologies and thriving business models, BRAG members BASF (fourth), Elevance (seventh), and Novozymes (11th) all placed in the top 15 on the biobased chemicals list, and showed strongly on the bioenergy list, with Novozymes at fourth, BASF at 15th, and Elevance at 25th.
 


 

DOE has developed a small business "All-in-one Application Tool" for small businesses looking for funds to advance clean energy technologies. The online tool provides a guide for potential applicants for the topics under the DOE Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Among the nine topics identified by SBIR is bioenergy, with particular focus on biomass conversion systems, coatings for metal combustors, and solid-liquid separations for algal systems.


 

On October 29, 2014, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) announced that Appalachian Biofuels LLC will invest about $3.5 million to establish its headquarters and an enzymatic biodiesel production facility in St. Paul, Virginia. The location is expected to create 40 jobs, which will be filled by former coal miners from the town of St. Paul and surrounding areas. Appalachian Biofuels will be refining waste feedstock materials with an enzyme to create biodiesel. The two organizations mainly responsible for offering financial incentives for Appalachian Biofuels to settle in Virginia are the Governor's Opportunity Fund, which provided a $200,000 grant, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, which provided a $210,000 grant.


 
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