By Lynn L. Bergeson
On May 15, 2020, U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Bioeconomy Research and Development Act of 2020, creating a federal research initiative to ensure continued United States leadership in engineering biology. The National Engineering Biology Research and Development Initiative would focus on the advancement of societal well-being, national security, sustainability, and economic productivity and competitiveness. It would accomplish these goals through:
- Advancement of areas of research at the intersection of biological, physical, chemical, data, and computational sciences;
- Advancement of areas in biomanufacturing research;
- Support of social and behavioral sciences and economics research that advances the field of engineering biology;
- Improvement of the understanding of the engineering biology;
- Support of risk research;
- Development of novel tools and technologies to accelerate scientific understanding and technological innovation in engineering biology;
- Expansion of the number of researchers, educators, and students with engineering biology training;
- Acceleration of the translation and commercialization of engineering biology research and development by the private sector; and
- Improvement of the interagency planning and coordination of federal government activities related to engineering biology.
According to Senator Rubio, the Bioeconomy Research and Development Act of 2020 has been endorsed by a number of leading research institutes, including the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On April 28, 2020, U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) introduced the Clean Fuels Deployment Act of 2020, which would fund installation and conversion of fuel pump infrastructure to deliver higher blends of biofuel. Co-sponsored by Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN), Don Bacon (R-NE), and Roger Marshall (R-KS), this bipartisan bill creates a clean fuels grant program with $600 million over a six-year period to help biofuel retailers. The plan is to assist retailers to offer higher ethanol blends; expand the geographic area selling ethanol blends; accelerate the deployment of fueling infrastructure; and support biodiesel, bioheat, and sustainable aviation fuel markets. A number of biofuels and energy associations and companies are in support of the bill. Thanking Representative Finkenauer for introducing the bill, Kelly Nieuwenhuis, representing the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), stated that the Clean Fuels Deployment Act will “expand long-term economic opportunities for farmers and biofuels producers.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson
EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) is hosting the following webinars to educate scientists on the more than 30 federal opportunities available in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina:
Webinar participants will learn about OCSPP’s role in protecting human health and the environment, OCSPP’s newly formed worksite located in Research Triangle Park, and the more than 30 scientific positions for which OCSPP is recruiting. The webinar will also cover finding and applying to EPA jobs, creating profiles and saving searches on USAJobs, education and transcript requirements for scientific positions, and the federal general schedule (GS) pay scale, benefits, and retirement.
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is pleased to release a timely episode of the All Things Chemical™ podcast, “Chemical Distribution in the Time of COVID-19 — A Conversation with Eric R. Byer, NACD.” In this episode, Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner, B&C, and Eric Byer, President and CEO of the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD), sat down to discuss current challenges facing small and large chemical distributors, and how NACD member companies are able to continue to distribute much needed chemical products, including sanitizers and other cleaning products, in response to the pandemic.
Lynn and Eric’s conversation focuses on unique “in the moment” issues and a broad range of federal, state, and international issues on which NACD is focused, including extending the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) implementation initiatives, and the impact of tariffs on imports from China on NACD member companies. Eric is an amazing leader of an essential trade association, and this conversation provides insights into his success as President and CEO of NACD.
The full podcast episode is available to stream online, where listeners can also find the recent podcast “COVID-19, FIFRA, and EPA — A Conversation with Lisa Campbell” Additional updates on chemical regulatory activity related to COVID-19 can be found on B&C’s Pesticide Law and Policy Blog® and on the Regulatory Developments page of B&C's website, including these recent updates:
All Things Chemical™ engages listeners in intelligent, insightful conversation about everything related to industrial, pesticidal, and specialty chemicals and the law and business issues surrounding chemicals. B&C’s talented team of lawyers, scientists, and consultants will keep listeners abreast of the changing world of both domestic and international chemical regulation and provide analysis of the many intriguing and complicated issues surrounding this space. All Things Chemical™ is available now on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.
Register now for the American Bar Association (ABA) webinar “Navigating the Jurisdictional Tightrope Between Biopesticides, Biostimulants, and Related Emerging Technologies” with Bergeson & Campbell P.C. (B&C®) professionals deconstructing the jurisdictional boundaries distinguishing pesticides, biopesticides, plant regulators, biostimulants, and related technologies. The webinar will focus on draft EPA guidance intended to clarify the lines between and among those products that are subject to FIFRA registration as plant regulators and those biostimulant products not subject to FIFRA registration. The webinar also will focus on new and evolving chemistry and technology issues that may blur some jurisdictional lines or potentially move products from one category to another. Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner, B&C; Lisa R. Burchi, Of Counsel, B&C; and Sheryl Dolan, Senior Regulatory Consultant, B&C, will present.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
On April 6, 2020, 15 United States Senators submitted a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary, Sonny Perdue, requesting the use of its authority to assist the biofuels industry’s economic circumstances brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlighting the negative impacts of the pandemic on farmers and producers who will bear the impact of the decrease in consumption, in the letter, the Senators have also taken the opportunity to criticize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to implement the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Specifically, the letter states that EPA has failed “to implement the RFS in accordance with the law, including its issuance of illegal small refinery waivers and enforcement of ethanol blending requirements.” The lack of proper implementation of RFS combined with the COVID-19 crisis, according to the Senators, further negatively impact the rural communities and employment rates in their respective home states.
Given these circumstances, the 15 signatories of the letter ask that USDA considers the allocation of additional funds provided to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stabilization (CARES) Act to assist the biofuels industry sector. Assistance would be helpful in the format of reimbursements for feedstocks and additional CCC funds to the Higher-Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program to drive future biofuel demand. Although, Secretary Purdue has not yet responded to the aforementioned request, the biofuels industry is hopeful.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On February 25, 2020, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that nominations are now open for the 2020 National Medal of Technology and Innovation (NMTI) to recognize those who have worked to advance U.S. competitiveness and quality of life and who have strengthened the workforce through technological innovations. The award is presented annually by the President of the United States to leading technological honorees. Applications will be accepted until April 3, 2020, for individuals, teams (up to four individuals), companies, and company divisions that have contributed to the U.S. economic, environmental, and social well-being. Nominees will be considered for up to three consecutive years. Initial selections will be made by the NMTI Nomination Evaluation Committee, which reviews applications and makes recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. The committee will then make recommendations to the President for final selection. Further information is available in this recorded webinar.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On February 28, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that, in support of President Trump’s (R) Executive Order to promote transparency, EPA launched a new guidance portal that provides public access to its guidance documents. According to EPA, the new searchable database will make it easier for the regulated community to find and follow agency guidance. On October 9, 2019, President Trump issued Executive Order 13891, Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents, to promote transparency by ensuring that all active guidance documents are made available to the public. The portal provides an indexed database that allows the public to search for documents based on a range of criteria that include date of issuance, general subject matter, and summary of contents. EPA states that prior to the launch of the portal, it conducted an exhaustive review of its current guidance documents and withdrew those documents that it determined to be no longer relevant. The guidance portal also provides a mechanism for the public to request modification or withdrawal of any documents. EPA notes that it uses guidance documents “to clarify existing obligations for interested parties, but not as a vehicle for implementing new, binding requirements on the public.” According to EPA, it will release by August 28, 2020, a regulation that establishes the processes and procedures for issuance of new guidance documents.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
Effective March 15, 2020, Madison Le will join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) as Director of the Chemical Control Division (CCD). Ms. Le will replace Acting Director Lynn Vendinello. Ms. Le is currently Director of the Fuels Compliance Policy Center within the Office of Air and Radiation. In that capacity, Ms. Le manages the implementation of EPA’s national fuels programs, including the Renewable Fuel Standard Program, Tier 3 Gasoline, Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel, and Fuels and Fuel Additives Registration. Prior to working for EPA, Ms. Le worked for California’s Los Angeles County on engineering design projects for municipal solid waste landfills and wastewater treatment plants, including air quality modeling and permitting for stationary and mobile sources. Ms. Le holds an M.S. and B.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Southern California.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
Federal enforcement of chemical product laws is alive and well, despite a broadly held misconception to the contrary. We have seen over the past 18 months or so an uptick in federal enforcement under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) writes to alert stakeholders of this fact. B&C believes that this trend will continue in 2020. Check out its memorandum on the topic here.