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.

All sides of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) debate had another chance to air their views on Wednesday at the Senate EPW Committee "Oversight Hearing on Domestic Renewable Fuels." Hearing details are available online.


Witnesses included representatives from EPA, DOE, industry, and major trade associations representing the oil and gas and biofuels industries. Their testimony was consistent with their previous actions and statements. For instance, EPA testified in support of its 2014 proposed RFS rule, which for the first time would reduce volumetric targets for all biofuels, including corn ethanol. The biofuels industry argued that the volumetric reductions in the proposed rule go too far, and that Congress should maintain the current version of the RFS law. In contrast, the oil and gas industry advocated that Congress act to repeal the RFS law.


EPW Committee Members weighed in with their divergent views during their opening remarks and throughout the hearing. For instance, Committee Chair Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) stated that she sees no need for Congress to act given the inherent regulatory flexibility contained in the existing law, and since EPA has sought to address industry concerns about the blend wall in the proposed rule. On the other end of the spectrum, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) stated that EPA's action demonstrates that the RFS is not working and that Congress should act to repeal it.
 

Tags: RFS, EPA, DOE, biofuels

 

On Thursday, November 7, 2013, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory released the Alternative Fueling Station Locator App for iPhone or iPad that provides up-to-date information to potential consumers on the closest fueling stations that offer various alternative fuels, including biodiesel (B20), compressed and liquefied natural gas, and ethanol (E85), among others. More information, including a link to the App, may be found on DOE's website.


This new App is a significant new tool in the effort to increase the amount of renewable fuels developed, distributed, and used in the United States.
 


 

RFA sponsored a study released this month by the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The study is available online. In the study, NREL analyzed various studies on the effects of E15 use in Model Year 2001 and newer cars and found no meaningful difference in the use of E10 and E15 in those vehicles. This is a significant finding because many in the oil and gas industries, among others, have warned of potentially harmful effects of using E15 in cars. EPA has approved E15 for use in Model Year 2001 and newer vehicles. Many in the biofuels industry have argued that, if more widely used, E15 could be one potential way to overcome the E10 blend wall, because it would allow for greater blending of ethanol in the U.S. fuel supply.


 

On Monday, September 30, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it intends to award $100 million for cutting edge energy research in areas including biofuels as part of its Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC). In 2009, DOE granted five-year awards ranging from $2 million to $5 million per year to each of 46 EFRCs throughout the country. The current Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is available online. Under the FOA, applicants must submit a letter of intent to apply by November 13, 2013, and applications are due by January 9, 2014. Existing and new EFRCs may apply.


The $100 million for this program is part of DOE's Fiscal Year 2014 funding request. Whether DOE is provided the funds is uncertain, especially given the government shutdown and standstill in Congress on passing a Fiscal Year 2014 budget.
 


 

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz has announced the selection of 19 individuals to serve on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB). The press release on the announcement is available online.


The SEAB will meet at least four times a year and will be broken into four subcommittees to focus on science, energy, nuclear security, and environmental stewardship. The group may also serve to provide advice to Secretary Moniz on an ad hoc basis to address specific issues. The 19 members of the SEAB are:

 

  • Frances Beinecke: President, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Rafael Bras: Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Albert Carnesale: Chancellor Emeritus and Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
  • John Deutch (CO-CHAIR): MIT Chemist and Former Under Secretary of Energy
  • Persis Drell (CO-CHAIR): Professor of Physics, Stanford University and Former Director, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Shirley Ann Jackson: President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Deborah Jin: Physicist, National Institute of Standards and Technology and Professor Adjoint for Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Paul Joskow: President, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and MIT Professor of Economics, Emeritus
  • Steve Koonin: Director, Center for Urban Science and Progress, New York University and Former Under Secretary for Science
  • Michael McQuade: Senior Vice President for Science and Technology, United Technologies Corporation
  • Richard Meserve: President, Carnegie Institution for Science and Former Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Cherry Murray: Dean, Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • John Podesta: Chair, Center for American Progress and Former White House Chief of Staff
  • Dan Reicher: Executive Director, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Professor, Stanford University and Former Assistant Secretary for Energy
  • Carmichael Roberts: General Partner, North Bridge Venture Partners
  • Martha Schlicher: Renewables and Sustainability Technology Lead, Monsanto Company
  • Brent Scowcroft: Retired U.S. Lieutenant General, Former National Security Advisor and President and Founder, Scowcroft Group
  • Ram Shenoy: Chief Technology Officer, ConocoPhillips
  • Daniel Yergin: Vice Chairman, IHS and Founder of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates
     

 

While in Brazil last week, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz stressed the importance of biofuels as part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, Secretary Moniz called for greater partnership between the U.S. and Brazil on biofuels. Significantly, it was reported that Secretary Moniz stated that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority and ability, and will continue to consider imports when EPA sets the annual renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This statement is important and signifies that EPA could continue to allow imported Brazilian sugarcane ethanol to meet annual RFS requirements.


As we recently reported, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Export Green Initiative continues plans for an upcoming trip to Brazil September 30-October 2, 2013, to encourage an increased relationship between that country and the U.S. on biofuels. Representatives from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the trade association representing the Brazilian sugarcane industry (UNICA), and the Advanced Biofuels Association, along with 15 companies that produce biofuels in the U.S., are expected to attend the trip. More information is available online.
 


 

On July 31 and August 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) held its sixth annual "Biomass 2013: How the Advanced Bioindustry is Reshaping American Energy." Over two days, attendees heard from Senators, Representatives, Obama Administration officials, and representatives of industry on the current and future progress of the biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products industries. The Biomass 2013 website, including detailed information on the conference and its program is available online.


During the conference, speakers discussed the immense progress that has been made in just the last few years within the biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products industries, as well as the legislative, financing, and other challenges that still lie ahead. They discussed the benefits that have accompanied the growth of these industries, including the thousands of well-paying jobs created throughout the country, particularly in rural communities. In addition, brief descriptions of some of the key announcements made and stories of success told during the conference further demonstrating the growing progress and maturity of the industry are summarized below.


Industry


INEOS Bio announced that it is now the first company producing cellulosic ethanol on a commercial scale at its Indian River BioEnergy Center in Vero Beach, Florida. A copy of this announcement is available online. Algae biofuels producer Sapphire Energy announced that it has paid off its entire United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Loan Guarantee under the Biorefinery Assistance Program in the amount of $54.5 million. A copy of this announcement is available online. These two announcements help to reinforce the message that the advanced and cellulosic biofuels industries are real and are progressing toward commercialization, especially with the help of policies including the federal RFS and loan guarantee programs.


Sue Hager, Myriant, discussed how a $50 million cost sharing cooperative agreement from DOE helped the company successfully start up its flagship bio-succinic acid plant located in Lake Providence, Louisiana. A copy of this announcement is available online. Hager reported that Myriant's bio-succinic acid plant is the first of its kind and scale in North America and has an annual nameplate production capacity of 30 million pounds of bio-succinic acid, which can be used to make numerous consumer products, including paints. Hager stressed several policy initiatives that would help promote biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products, including one that would broaden the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) to value biorefineries as real property and passage of the Senate version of the Farm Bill, with mandatory funding for biorefinery assistance.


Industry Representatives


Attendees heard from the heads of all the major biofuels trade associations. They echoed the success and progress that has been made in the last few years and discussed their efforts to advocate on Capitol Hill and within the Administration to ensure continued support to facilitate research, development, and commercialization of the biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products industries. All leaders mentioned the importance of the RFS and the current threat to it led by the refining industry and its supporters.


Policymakers


Several policymakers also presented during the conference touting their support for the U.S. biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products industries. They all remarked on the tough battle industry is facing, as opposition is ramping up against the RFS, federal funding for biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products and other programs designed to promote the industry. USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack reiterated his support for the RFS and encouraged attendees to urge Congress to pass the Senate version of the next Farm Bill, which includes mandatory funding for biofuels, and for the first time broadens eligibility to renewable chemicals and biobased products. In addition, Secretary Vilsack discussed how USDA is working hard to find funding to help industry, especially in light of the budget sequester. For instance, he told the audience how USDA had recently restarted the biobased labeling program after having to pause it due to the sequester. He commended the recent successes of INEOS Bio and Sapphire Energy noted above.


Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) expressed support for the biofuels industry and touted Iowa's renewable energy production, including growth in ethanol plants and wind energy. He mentioned that renewable fuels help reduce dependence on foreign sources of oil. He also asserted his continued support for the federal RFS and called the audience to advocate that: (1) the RFS and biofuels are saving consumers money at the pump; (2) RFS and biofuels are not diverting food to fuel, any such suggestion is "hogwash"; (3) production of corn is at a record high because of biofuels; (4) biofuels are contributing to clean air and clean environment; (5) the RFS is necessary to drive investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels, which have even greater environmental benefits; and (6) the RFS is needed to ensure a level playing field for alternative fuels.


Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) talked about his background as a rancher in California. He expressed his support for industry and made the point that biomass is used for many things beyond biofuels, including renewable chemicals and biobased products. He stressed the importance of these industries and called on the audience to urge policymakers to continue their support. To make his point that such advocacy is needed now more than ever to help protect support for the promotion of biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products, Representative Garamendi detailed several provisions in various appropriations bills industry opponents have successfully passed. These provisions include several on which we have reported this year such as those in the House, which passed a version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which would limit DOD's ability to procure and promote advanced drop-in biofuels for military use.


Michael Carr, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) discussed the importance of public-private partnerships and need for continued investment for the ongoing development and commercialization of biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products. He made the point that there is much momentum and now is not the time to stop government support. In addition, Dan Utech, Deputy Director for Energy and Climate Change at the White House Domestic Policy Council discussed the President's commitment to take action against climate change. As part of this effort, the Administration recognizes the importance and opportunity of biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products.


Valerie Reed, Acting Director, Bioenergy Technologies Office, DOE opened and closed the first day of the conference. She spoke of DOE's commitment to industry and discussed its efforts to help promote development and commercialization, including the renewable carbon fiber initiative and upcoming workshop taking place on September 3, 2013, in Chicago, Illinois on natural gas-biomass to liquids. Reed remarked that DOE workshops and funding opportunities are some of the most important tools DOE uses to get information to industry about potential assistance.


Newly sworn-in DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz spoke on the last day of the conference. The press release detailing his complete remarks is available online. Secretary Moniz described various DOE initiatives to help facilitate further development of renewable chemicals, biobased products, and biofuels. He also announced that DOE is making an investment of more than $22 million in four projects intended to help "develop cost-competitive algae fuels and streamline the biomass feedstock supply for advanced biofuels."


Algae Fuels Investments


Secretary Moniz announced that DOE would invest a total of $16.5 million on the following algae biofuel projects:


Hawaii Bioenergy ($5 million DOE investment): Based in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii Bioenergy will develop a cost-effective photosynthetic open pond system to produce algal oil. The project will also demonstrate preprocessing technologies that reduce energy use and the overall cost of extracting lipids and producing fuel intermediates.

Sapphire Energy ($5 million DOE investment): Headquartered in San Diego, California, Sapphire Energy will develop a new process to produce algae-based fuel that is compatible with existing refineries. The project will also work on improving algae strains and increasing yield through cultivation improvements.

New Mexico State University ($5 million DOE investment): For its project, New Mexico State University will increase the yield of a microalgae, while developing harvesting and cultivation processes that lower costs and support year-round production.

California Polytechnic State University ($1.5 million DOE investment): California Polytechnic State University will conduct research and development work to increase the productivity of algae strains and compare two separate processing technologies. The project will be based at a municipal wastewater treatment plant in Delhi, California that has six acres of algae ponds.


Investments in Feedstock Chain for Advanced Biofuels


Secretary Moniz also announced the following nearly $6 million investment:
 

• Project led by Columbus, Ohio-based FDC Enterprises to reduce harvesting, handling, and preprocessing costs across the entire biomass feedstock supply chain. The project will receive a nearly $6 million DOE investment. The FDC Enterprises project will work with independent growers and biofuel companies in Iowa, Kansas, Virginia, and Tennessee -- including POET, ADM, Clariant International, and Pellet Technology USA -- to develop new field equipment, biorefinery conveyor designs and improved preprocessing technologies. The project will also develop and deploy feedstock quality-monitoring tools to reduce sampling and analysis costs, and conduct real-time analysis of feedstock characteristics such as moisture content and particle size.

 

Tags:

 

On July 23, 2013, DOE published a notice announcing an open meeting of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee, which is available online. The meeting will take place August 14, 2013, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and August 15, 2013, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It will be held at the American Geophysical Union, 2000 Florida Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20009. For more information, contact Elliott Levine, Designated Federal Officer, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20585, (202) 586-1476, e-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or Roy Tiley at (410) 997-7778, Ext. 220, e-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Tags:

 
‹ First  < 18 19 20