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 April 30, 2018, 18 pro-ethanol Senators sent a bi-partisan letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting a “transparent timeline … on the regulatory pathway forward to address the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) issue,” “an expected timeline of the rulemaking process to clarify how the agency will make this change to allow higher ethanol blends access to the marketplace” and “immediate clarity to allow higher ethanol blends to be sold in the interim while the outdated regulation is being changed” as related to President Trump’s commitment to allow for 15 percent ethanol blends (E15) to be sold year-round and Pruitt’s statements in an EPA budget hearing in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment regarding EPA’s issuance of a waiver that would allow year-round sales of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.

Tags: EPA, E15, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 12, 2018, House Agriculture Committee Chair Michael Conaway (R-TX) released the Committee’s draft Farm Bill reauthorization, the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018” (H.R. 2).  The 600-plus page draft legislation includes a number of provisions that will be of interest to Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) members and the biofuel industry, including the following sections:

  • Sec. 6402. Biobased markets program.  Section 6402 amends section 9002(i) of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 by authorizing appropriations of $2,000,000 per fiscal year and reauthorizing the program through 2023. Additionally, the section prohibits other federal agencies from placing limitations on procurement of wood products.
  • Sec. 6403. Biorefinery, renewable, chemical, and biobased product manufacturing assistance.  Section 6403 amends section 9003 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 by expanding eligibility of eligible projects. The section authorizes appropriations of 48 $75,000,000 per fiscal year and reauthorizing the program through 2023.
  • Sec. 6405. Bioenergy program for advanced biofuels.  Section 6405 amends section 9005(g) of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 by authorizing appropriations of $50,000,000 per fiscal year and reauthorizing the program through 2023.
  • Sec. 6406. Biodiesel fuel education program. Section 6406 amends section 9006(d) of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 by authorizing appropriations of $2,000,000 per fiscal year and reauthorizing the program through 2023.
  • Sec. 6410. Biomass Crop Assistance Program. Section 6410 amends section 9011(f) of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 by authorizing appropriations of $25,000,000 per fiscal year and reauthorizing the program through 2023.
  • Section 7509. Biomass research and development.  Section 7509 amends section 9008(h) of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 to reauthorize appropriations for biomass research and development through fiscal year 2023

The full text of H.R. 2 and a section-by-section summary are available on the House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill webpage along with several related fact sheets.  The House Agriculture Committee marked-up and passed the bill package on April 18, 2018.  The House is likely to hold a floor vote in early May.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

Representative Scott Peters (D-CA) recently introduced the Algae Agriculture Act of 2018 (H.R. 5373) to the House of Representatives. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), and Darin LaHood (R-IL), would provide similar advantages to algae cultivators and harvesters as those that exist for traditional crop farmers under U.S. agricultural policy. These advantages include: updating the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture to include algae, which will provide funding for additional research into ways to utilize algae; making rural electric cooperatives eligible for Carbon Capture and Use (CUU) projects using algae; and providing crop disaster assistance for algae cultivation. “Algae can become a natural pathway to improve soil health on farms, manage water resources, nutrient run-off, and utilize carbon in a way that earns revenue and reduces climate change impacts,” stated Mark Allen, Vice President of Integrated Carbon Solutions at Accelergy Corporation and Vice Chair of Algae Biomass Organization’s (ABO) board of directors. “This bill is an important step toward making algae farming and other algae technologies an important part of American agriculture.”

Tags: Algae, Federal

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 8, 2018, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced companion legislation (S. 2519, H.R. 5212) in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, respectively, to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  The Growing Renewable Energy through Existing and New Environmentally Responsible (GREENER) Fuels Act aims to:

  • Phase out the corn ethanol mandate and immediately reduce the amount of ethanol in fuel by as much as one billion gallons by capping the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 9.7 percent;
  • Help farmers return cornfields to pasture and wildlife habitat through a ten cents per renewable identification number (RIN) fee to fund a new private land protection and restoration fund in the U.S. Treasury; and
  • Extend the cellulosic next generation biofuel mandate until two billion gallons of annual production is achieved or 2037, whichever is soonest, and improve the way the mandate is implemented to produce liquid transportation fuels that dramatically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. ​ 

According to Representative Welch, the “legislation reforms the mandate to dramatically reduce its environmental impact and to support the continued growth of advanced biofuels.”

Tags: RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 6, 2018, a coalition of over 200 companies and trade associations sent a letter to the Agricultural Committee leaders in the House and Senate urging the reauthorization of and stable mandatory funding for the energy title programs in the next Farm Bill reauthorization.  The letter states that the Farm Bill energy title programs have greatly assisted rural America in developing clean, renewable energy, biobased products, and making energy efficiency investments for more than 15 years with an incredibly modest, cost-effective investment.  The less than one tenth of one percent of Farm Bill spending dedicated to the programs has allowed for ag-based entrepreneurs to launch initiatives to generate jobs and economic development in areas such as biogas and advanced biofuels, biopower, biobased products, renewable chemicals, and energy efficiency.  Additionally, the letter provides recommendations for further improving the energy title programs.  For example, the Biorefinery Assistance Program (BAP) could be opened fully to standalone renewable chemical companies; the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) could be enhanced to support a fuller range of important, proven, market-ready technologies; and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) could be effective in continuing to support biomass energy development and sustainably address hazardous fuels reduction efforts in our nation’s forests.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

As explained in the notice issued by Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), with President Trump’s signing of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892), the blenders tax credit was extended retroactively for 2017.  Qualified biofuel blenders are eligible for a tax credit of $1.00 per gallon of biodiesel or renewable diesel used in the blending process in 2017.  The blenders tax credit was one of several biofuel-related tax incentives that were extended retroactively.  The incentives, which also include tax credits for second-generation biofuel production and alternative fuel vehicle refueling property, and a special allowance for second generation biofuel plant property, were not extended through 2018.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On January 26, 2018, the International Trade Administration (ITA) published in the Federal Register a notice of an open meeting of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (REEEAC).  The meeting will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on May 10, 2018, in Washington, D.C and will be the seventh and final in-person meeting of the current charter.  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 the Department of Commerce (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 May 4, 2018.  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 May 4, 2018.

Tags: ITA, REEEAC

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 8, 2018, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue presented to President Donald Trump the findings of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.  The Task Force was established in 2017 following an Executive Order by President Trump to ensure the informed exercise of regulatory authority that impacts agriculture and rural communities.  According to the report, over 100 actions organized around five key topic areas, specifically e-connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, innovation and technology, and economic development, were identified.
 
Of the recommendations related to economic development, the Task Force identified regaining American energy dominance as a key objective.  The report states that “[‌b]oosting production of all sources of energy from natural gas, oil, coal, nuclear, and renewables is essential to America’s national security interest and rural America’s economy.  The federal government must ensure a regulatory environment which can unleash this potential while keeping Americans safe and healthy.”

Regarding innovation and technology, the report recognizes biotechnology as “another area of U.S. leadership, being a sector that has driven innovation in fuels, chemicals, manufacturing, and agriculture.”  The Task Force recommended that:

  • The U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other relevant agencies develop a communications strategy to increase acceptance of biotech products; and
  • The federal government continue efforts to modernize the federal regulatory system for biotechnology products, particularly by:
    • Coordinating the federal regulation of biotechnology products;
    • Coordinating interagency action through the Office of Science and Technology Policy; and
    • Expediting the commercialization of biotechnology products.
​​The full report is available on the USDA website.

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 4, 2018, the International Trade Administration (ITA) issued in the Federal Register a notice of the countervailing duty (CVD) orders on biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia based on the affirmative final determinations by the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the International Trade Commission (ITC).  As reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post ITC Issues Final Determinations On Biodiesel From Argentina And Indonesia, after DOC issued its final affirmative determination on November 16, 2017, ITC filed its final determination on December 21, 2017, stating that an industry in the United States is materially injured by subsidized imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia.  According to the notice, unliquidated entries of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, entered or withdrawn from a warehouse for consumption on or after August 28, 2017, are subject to the assessment of CVD.  DOC will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assess the CVD for the subject merchandise equal to the net countervailable subsidy rates established in the notice.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On December 28, 2017, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) issued in the Federal Register a notice regarding its final determination on the antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations of biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia.  Pursuant to the Tariff Act of 1930, ITC determined that an industry in the United States is materially injured by reason of imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, which have been found by the Department of Commerce (DOC) to be subsidized by the governments of Argentina and Indonesia.  ITC completed and filed its determinations on December 21, 2017, after holding a hearing on November 9, 2017, in which all interested parties were permitted to appear.  The views of ITC will be published in USITC Publication 4748 (December 2017), entitled Biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia: Investigation Nos. 701-TA-571-572, which will be available on the ITC website shortly.

Tags: ITC

 
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