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 November 30, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final renewable fuels volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2019 and the biomass-based diesel volumes for 2020.  The final rule establishes that the 15-billion gallon targets originally set by Congress for 2019 will be maintained and primarily met by corn ethanol.  Additionally, in 2019, advanced biofuel volumes will increase by 630 million gallons and cellulosic biofuel volumes by 130 million gallons over the 2018 standard.  The biomass-based diesel volumes for 2020 will increase by 330 million gallons over the 2019 standard of 2.1 billion gallons.

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 4, 2018, EPA announced that it is accepting nominations for the 2019 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.  Sponsored by EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) in partnership with the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (ACSGCI), these awards promote the development and use of novel green chemistry for environmental and economic benefits.  There are five award categories for which eligible candidates can be nominated:

  • Greener Synthetic Pathways (Focus Area 1);
  • Greener Reaction Condition (Focus Area 2);
  • The Design of Greener Chemicals (Focus Area 3);
  • Small Business; and
  • Academic.

Eligibility for nominations requires that candidates’ technology meets the following criteria:  (1) it must be a green chemistry technology with a significant chemistry component; (2) it must include source reduction; (3) it must be submitted by an eligible organization or its representatives; (4) it must have a significant milestone in its development within the past five years; (5) it must have a significant U.S. component; and (6) it must fit within at least one of the three focus areas of the program.  The deadline for nominations is January 15, 2019, to be presented in the summer of 2019.  Self-nominations are allowed, there is no entry fee or standard form, and one can nominate more than one technology.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 13, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the submission for review of an information collection request (ICR) on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  83 Fed. Reg. 56319.  The Federal Register notice states that purpose of this submission is to obtain OMB approval of an ICR that consolidates some existing collections.  By consolidating the existing collections and recordkeeping updates, EPA is aiming to create a new, consistent, and easily understandable format to report burden and cost estimates related to the RFS program.  Additionally, the ICR requests approval of updates to the recordkeeping and reporting burden along with cost estimated in December 2017.  EPA requested comments on this ICR for a 60-day period.  The November 13, 2018, notice extends the request for public comments by an additional 30 days.  Additional comments may be submitted on or before December 13, 2018.  The estimated burden approximates 566,665 hours per year, with a total estimated cost of $57,457,330 per year.  The cost estimate includes $0 of annualized capital or operation and maintenance costs.

Tags: EPA, RFS, OMB, Biofuel

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

Is your company engaged in Class 2 chemistries that are similar to existing Class 2 chemicals but are derived from an innovative bio-source? We are looking for pioneering companies working on new biobased Class 2 chemicals to assist in advancing an important project with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
 
ISSUE:  While EPA sustainability goals would seemingly include adoption of improved biobased technologies, EPA’s policies under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) mean that many novel, sustainable technologies are considered “new chemicals” requiring EPA to conduct new chemical assessments.  If these new chemicals are converted to other substances by downstream customers, those substances are likely also new, requiring additional new chemical submissions and assessments.  Each new chemical submission and assessment represents a cost and a commercial delay and each is a barrier to adoption of what may be a promising sustainable technology.  These reviews can and do result in EPA applying risk management conditions on the production and distribution in commerce of the novel, renewable chemicals -- restrictions that may not apply to older chemistries even though they may be functionally identical in performance, hazard, and risk. Ironically, the new chemical may offer a more benign environmental footprint but nonetheless be subject to stricter controls.
 
POTENTIAL SOLUTION:  To address these issues, the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) has submitted to EPA, in partnership with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a BRAG member, a White Paper proposing a TSCA Inventory representation and equivalency determinations for renewable and sustainable biobased chemicals. EPA’s initial response to the White Paper has been positive and staff has indicated a willingness to conduct equivalency determinations if submitted. 
 
REQUEST:  BRAG is now seeking companies interested in participating in a pilot project to prepare and submit such requests.  Specifically, we are looking for companies that manufacture or plan to manufacture a Class 2 chemical substance that is functionally equivalent to another Class 2 chemical, but due to existing naming conventions, the two chemicals are not listed as equivalent.  If your company fits this description and you wish to support an effort to alleviate commercial burden for yourself and others in the future, please consider working with BRAG on this important project so we present impactful equivalency cases to EPA.
 
BRAG and Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) are committed to this project.  As such, we will evaluate all candidate chemicals submitted, select what we believe is a good test case for the project, and prepare as a courtesy the necessary submission paperwork and equivalency arguments, in conjunction with the nominating company.
 
Please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if your company is interested in submitting a nomination.

Tags: BRAG, Biobased

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 30, 2018, Earthjustice and the Clean Air Task Force submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a petition “to amend its ‘aggregate compliance’ approach to the definition of biomass under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) … to prevent the conversion of native grasslands.”  The petition was filed on behalf of 11 organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club, and urges EPA’s Administrator Andrew Wheeler to amend regulations related to land permissibility for renewable biomass production.  Under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act’s (EISA) RFS, land conversion for the production of renewable fuel sources is restricted to agricultural land cultivated prior to the enactment of the ruling that is nonforested or uncultivated.  Meant to ensure that growing renewable fuel sources would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, the petition claims that these requirements are not being implemented by EPA due to an aggregate compliance system for measuring land use.  Instead, green groups are requesting that EPA use an individualized compliance approach in evaluating biofuel producers to assure compliance with EISA’s land use restrictions.  The petition also requests that EPA require additional “proof that only EISA-compliant land is used to grow crops displaced by renewable biomass production.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 17, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final fees rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in the Federal Register.  83 Fed. Reg. 52694.  The final rule largely tracks the proposed rule.  EPA is establishing fees applicable to any person required to submit information to EPA; or a notice, including an exemption or other information, to be reviewed by EPA; or who manufactures (including imports) a chemical substance that is the subject of a risk evaluation.  This final rulemaking describes the final TSCA fees and fee categories for fiscal years 2019, 2020, and 2021, and explains the methodology by which the final TSCA fees were determined.  It identifies some factors and considerations for determining fees for subsequent fiscal years; and includes amendments to existing fee regulations governing the review of premanufacture notices, exemption applications and notices, and significant new use notices. As required in TSCA, EPA is also establishing standards for determining which persons qualify as “small business concerns” and thus would be subject to lower fee payments.  Small businesses will be eligible to receive a substantial discount of approximately 80 percent on their fees.  EPA has been hosting a series of webinars focusing on making TSCA submissions and paying fees under the final rule.  The first webinar was held on October 10, 2018, and the second was held on October 24, 2018. The third webinar will be held on November 7, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (EST).  The final rule became effective on October 18, 2018. For an overview of the rule, see Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s regulatory developments update.
Tags: EPA, TSCA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 16, 2018, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs released the Trump Administration’s Fall 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Agenda). The Agenda aims to report on actions that administrative agencies, such as EPA, plan to put forward in the near- and long-terms. As its name implies, the Agenda includes both regulatory and deregulatory actions and attempts to justify any burden associated with these actions. According to its announcement, it should reflect four broad regulatory reform priorities: advancing regulatory reform, public notice of regulatory development, transparency, and consistent practice across the Federal Government.
 
Included in the Agenda are the Administration’s estimated timelines for the rulemakings on year-round sales of 15 percent ethanol (E15) sales and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) resetting renewable volume obligations (RVO). It is expected that EPA will release a proposed rule on permitting E15 sales year-round in February 2019, with a final rulemaking expected in May 2019. While the final rulemaking on RFS Biomass-Based Diesel (BBD) volume is expected to be announced in November 2018, the rulemaking on the RFS modification of applicable volumes is predicted to be announced in 2019. According to the Agenda, the proposed rule will be announced in January 2019 and the final rule should follow in December 2019.

Tags: EPA, TSCA, Agenda

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 9, 2018, during a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he will order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to expand its sales of corn ethanol. This action, which farmers across the U.S. have been waiting for, will allow for year-round sales of 15 percent biofuels (E15) ethanol blends. Currently, E15 sales are restricted during the summer months in certain states, limiting the expansion of the market space for biofuels. Well received by many in the industry, the announcement was particularly appreciated by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, which applauded President Trump’s decision in a press release. Brent Erikson, BIO’s Executive Vice President, emphasized in his statement that “[a]llowing E15 to be sold year-round will help unleash the potential of cellulosic biofuels by creating more demand and marked headroom for the next generation of biofuels.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 27, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the user fees final rule for the administration of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the fourth and remaining framework rule to be issued in final under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg).

This final rule, that amends 40 C.F.R. Parts 700, 720, 723, 725, 790, and 791, “describes the final TSCA fees and fee categories for fiscal years 2019, 2020, and 2021”; “explains the methodology by which the final TSCA fees were determined”; “identifies some factors and considerations for determining fees for subsequent fiscal years”; and “includes amendments to existing fee regulations governing the review of premanufacture notices, exemption applications and notices, and significant new use notices.”  The final rule has not been published yet in the Federal Register so an effective date is not yet available; a pre-publication version is available here.

Specifically, EPA is establishing fees applicable to any person required to submit information to EPA under TSCA Section 4; or a notice, including an exemption or other information, to be reviewed by EPA under TSCA Section 5; or who manufactures (including imports) a chemical substance that is the subject of a risk evaluation under TSCA Section 6(b).  EPA is also establishing standards for determining which persons qualify as "small business concerns" and thus would be subject to lower fee payments.  

In the press release announcing the rule, EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler states that this rule will “provide resources needed to support the valuable work EPA does to review chemicals for safety, manage risk as required, and make chemical information available as appropriate.”  During fiscal years 2019-2021, EPA states it will “work to track costs and will use that information to adjust future fees, if appropriate.”

EPA also announced that it will be hosting a series of webinars focusing on making TSCA submissions and paying fees under the final rule.  The first webinar was held on October 10, 2018. Two other webinars are scheduled for October 24, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (EDT); and November 7, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (EST).

More information on TSCA implementation is available on our website under key phrase Lautenberg Implementation.  More information on the TSCA user fees final rule is available in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) detailed memorandum, “EPA Issues Final TSCA Fees Rule.”

Tags: TSCA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has included a new data portal on its website to promote greater transparency on small refineries exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Criticized in the past for its lack of transparency, EPA’s new RFS data portal also provides previously undisclosed information on Renewable Identification Number (RIN) transactions, renewable fuel volume production, average RIN prices, and RIN transaction volumes. The data available dates back to July 1, 2010, which is when EPA started collecting the information provided. EPA intends to update the data portal on a monthly basis.

Tags: EPA, Biofuel, RFS, RIN

 
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