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 Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 21, 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) released their interim report titled A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology.  The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) asked NAS to develop the framework to:

  • Guide an assessment of the security concerns related to advances in synthetic biology;
  • Assess the level of concern warranted for various advances and identify areas of vulnerability; and
  • Prioritize options to address these vulnerabilities.
The report provides an overview of the categories of synthetic biology and a set of initial questions aimed at guiding the assessment of concern related to the technologies and applications of the field.  The framework outlines factors for assessing the levels of concern that each technology and application presents in terms of malicious use, as well as factors for assessing the capability for mitigation.  The final report will use the framework to provide DOD with an assessment of concerns and mitigation options by developing informed answers to the questions posed in the interim report.

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On September 5, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) published in the Federal Register a notice of an open meeting of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (REEEAC).  REEEAC will hold a meeting from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on November 16, 2017, in Washington, D.C.  REEEAC provides the Secretary of Commerce with advice from the private sector on the development and administration of programs and policies to expand the export competitiveness of the U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency products and services.  The meeting will include REEEAC subcommittee working sessions, a discussion on next steps for each subcommittee, consideration of recommendations for approval, and an update from DOC and other agencies on major issues affecting the competitiveness of the U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency industries.  An agenda will be available upon request by November 1, 2017.  Stakeholders interested in participating in the meeting must register with Victoria Gunderson (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on November 10, 2017.

Tags: DOC, REEEAC

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On August 28, 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued in the Federal Register a notice of request for public comment on an extension of a previously approved information collection requirement regarding Biobased Procurements.  Pursuant to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Clause 52.223-2, Affirmative Procurement of Biobased Products Under Service and Construction Contracts, prime contractors are required to report annually the product types and dollar values of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-designated biobased products purchased to the System for Award Management (SAM) website.  Federal agencies use the submitted information to report annually to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) concerning actions taken to implement and measure progress in carrying out the preference for biobased products required under Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, codified at 7 U.S.C. § 8102.  
 
Comments are due by October 27, 2017.  Public comments are invited specifically on:

  • Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of functions of the FAR, and whether it will have practical utility;
  • Whether the estimate of the public burden of this collection of information is accurate, and based on valid assumptions and methodology;
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Ways in which we can minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through the use of appropriate technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.
Tags: DOD, GSA, NASA, Biobased

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On July 26, 2017, the Farewell to Unnecessary Energy Lifelines Reform Act of 2017 or FUEL Reform Act (H.R. 3419) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ).  The bill would eliminate the following energy subsidies in Title IX of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002:

  • Biobased Markets Program;
  • Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program;
  • Repowering Assistance Program;
  • Biorefinery Program for Advanced Biofuels;
  • Biodiesel Fuel Education Program;
  • Rural Energy for America Program;
  • Biomass Research and Development Initiative;
  • Feedstock Flexibility Program for Bioenergy Producers;
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program; and
  • Community Wood Energy Program.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Representatives Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Trent Franks, (R-AZ), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Jim Jordan (R-OH), was referred to the Committees on Agriculture; Oversight and Government Reform; and Science, Space, and Technology.

 

 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 29, 2017, Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Linda Sánchez (D-CA) introduced the Renewable Chemicals Act of 2017 to the House.  If enacted, the legislation would create a targeted, short-term tax credit for the production of qualifying renewable chemicals from biomass and for investments in renewable chemical production facilities.  The tax credit would be provided based on job creation, innovation, environmental benefits, commercial viability, and contribution to U.S. energy independence.  Numerous industry stakeholders, including the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Renmatix, and DSM, praised the proposed legislation. 


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On June 20, 2017, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) announced that nearly 100 biodiesel advocates from across the country visited Capitol Hill to urge Congress to bring back the biodiesel tax incentive as proposed in both chambers of Congress.  Industry participants consisted of biodiesel producers, distributors, and feedstock suppliers from over 24 states.  According to Anne Steckel, the Vice President of Federal Affairs at NBB, the bipartisan biodiesel tax incentive should be reinstated since it helps support tens of thousands of jobs nationwide and the proposed reforms address the unintended consequences of the credit.  The legislative proposals in Congress restructure the incentive so that U.S. producers qualify for the credit, which cuts off subsidies for foreign manufacturing and reduces the potential for tax fraud.

Tags: NBB, Biodiesel, Tax

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On June 12, 2017, 28 companies representing the advanced and cellulosic biofuel industry sent a letter to the members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee  requesting their support for the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517), which is scheduled to be marked up in the Environment and Public Works Committee before the August recess.  The letter claims that the Act, which would extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver to ethanol blends above 10 percent, is vital to the advanced biofuel industry since it would allow E15, a more environmentally-friendly and affordable fuel, to be sold year round and, thus, would create marked headroom for next generation fuels.  While the signatories commit to supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in its entirety, they state that the RVP issue will not only ensure that E15 can be sold year round but will also provide an opportunity for advanced and cellulosic fuels to compete at the pump.  According to the letter, moving to E15 would reduce the cost of gasoline by 5 to 15 cents per gallon, and lower emissions harmful to the environment.
 
On June 14, 2017, the Committee held a legislative hearing on the Act.  In his opening statement, Senator Carper (D-DE) stated that his primary objective is to ensure that the ethanol blends above 10 percent do not contribute more or less to ozone pollution than ethanol blends below 10 percent, as is currently assumed.  Carper stated his interest in learning whether advanced biofuels would benefit from the increased market share that would result from the Act, what impacts the Act would have on the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) market, and what more can be done to add transparency and certainty to an opaque market.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On June 2, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), released a statement in response to the decision by President Trump to withdraw the U.S from the Paris Agreement.  According to Neste, the U.S. withdrawal is “unfortunate” and “a saddening turn for the international battle against climate change.”  The decision, however, will not signal the downfall of the Agreement, which has been ratified by 147 of the 197 countries that signed it.  The statement highlights the fact that no changes have been made to the Renewable Fuel Standard, which has set increasing obligations for renewable fuels for 2017 and 2018, nor to the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard.  Neste aims to continue to make renewable products available to U.S. states, cities, and businesses to support their ambitious targets for reducing emissions.


 
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