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 August 21, 2019, Iowa Democratic Representative Cindy Axne asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Inspector General (IG) to investigate how EPA decided to grant the exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requested by oil refiners. EPA approved 31 petitions for waivers from the 2018 requirements.  Lawmakers are not pleased at what appears to be EPA favoring the oil industry. Hence, Representative Axne’s call for an IG investigation into how EPA decided to expand the number of waivers it issued since President Trump came into office. Representative Axne held a press conference on August 21, 2019, at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, an ethanol producer in Iowa.  This is the same plant where Trump touted his action expanding sales of 15 percent ethanol.
 
According to Reuters, Trump is seeking to mollify corn farmers who are incensed over the exemptions. He personally approved EPA’s decision to go ahead with the waivers, but in a cabinet meeting, Trump told his staff to figure out a way to pacify the farmers.  Alarmingly, and according to a refinery industry source, the President also asked EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler if he could take the exemptions back; he was told he could not.
 
Citing data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), EPA stated the United States had been setting records for both ethanol production and exports. “There is zero evidence that EPA’s Congressionally mandated small refinery exemption program, which provides regulatory relief to small refineries around the country, has had any negative impact on domestic corn ethanol producers,” EPA said in a statement. Nonetheless, POET, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, has idled an Indiana plant due to the waivers. “Our industry invested billions of dollars based on the belief that oil could not restrict access to the market and EPA would stand behind the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard,” POET CEO Jeff Broin said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the oil industry is manipulating the EPA and is now using the RFS to destroy demand for biofuels.”

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 9, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a report on its compliance with the law titled EPA Exceeded the Deregulatory Goals of Executive Order 13771. Executive Order 13771, titled Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, includes regulatory savings goals for FYs 2017 and 2018, EPA’s deregulatory actions, and its compliance with the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) goal-setting requirements. EO 13771 was issued to manage costs associated with existing and new regulations established by federal agencies. Commonly referred to as the “two-for-one” EO, it required that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination.” The report addresses EPA’s regulatory compliance with the aforementioned EO, stating that “in FYs 2017 and 2018, the EPA exceeded its deregulatory expectations” and exceeded the savings goal as well. EPA clearly adds in the report that it did not develop internal guidance or management controls to implement the EO. Instead, EPA relied solely on OMB guidance. In the report, EPA recommends the enhancement of transparency regarding EO 13771 decision-making and outreach.

Tags: EPA, OIG

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On July 25, 2019, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) hosted a webinar titled “New TSCA at 3: Key Implementation Issues” led by B&C’s Managing Partner, Lynn L. Bergeson. Webinar speakers included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Assistant Administrator, Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, and B&C’s Director of Chemistry and former EPA staff, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D. Assistant Administrator Dunn’s presentation outlined EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) accomplishments and priorities three years after the amendment of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Some of the most recent accomplishments highlighted by Assistant Administrator Dunn included OCSPP’s update to the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory in designating substances as “active” in commerce, the selection of the first 40 chemicals for prioritization, and consumer protection measures, among others. In addition, Dunn also highlighted OCSPP’s priorities for the future implementation of TSCA:

  • Publication of the draft dossiers for substances designated as high- and low-priority in the Federal Register for public comment expected as follows:
     
    • Early August 2019, for low-priority substances; and
       
    • End of August 2019, for high-priority substances;
       
  • Initiation of the risk evaluations on the 20 high-priority chemicals and designation of the 20 low-priority chemicals by December 22, 2019; and
     
  • Issue of draft scopes for public comment prior to issuing statutorily required final scopes six months after initiating the risk evaluation.

Assistant Administrator Dunn’s remarks also included EPA’s efforts for increased transparency through the publishing of information about new chemicals’ TSCA Confidential Business Information (CBI) claim reviews, which began in early July 2019. Bergeson and Engler commended Dunn’s efforts in implementing TSCA, and especially EPA’s efforts in increasing new chemical transparency. Engler urged businesses submitting new chemical notices to EPA to review carefully its submission prior to providing it to EPA to ensure that no CBI is made publicly available when new chemical notices are published. Following these discussions, questions from webinar attendees were accepted until the very last minute of the webinar. The full recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

Tags: EPA, TSCA, Webinar

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On July 31, 2019, EPA held a public hearing in Ypsilanti, MI, to obtain stakeholders’ input on its proposed rule to set Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVO) and 2021 biomass-based diesel volume. Among the various stakeholders providing oral statements to EPA were representatives from Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Hero BX, and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). Most of the oral comments provided were in opposition to the proposed rule. Industry representatives highly critized the proposed rule, stating that the RVOs proposed were unreasonable and would negatively impact economic growth through demand destruction and job losses. Many stakeholders also expressed disappointment that, in its proposed rule, EPA failed to account for approved Small Refinery Exemptions (SRE) granted. In agreement with other stakeholders’ comments, Growth Energy’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Chris Bliley, stated that progress made thus far under the RFS Program is being threatened by this proposal. Bliley also added that too many exemptions have been granted in secrecy by EPA. Criticism was also made regarding compliance costs and its negative impact on jobs should this rule be approved. Tim Keaveney, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Hero BX, urged EPA to raise the RVOs for biodiesel to enable further industry growth. Overall, there seemed to be a general agreement that the proposed rule betrays President Trump’s commitment to maintaining the RFS Program.

Tags: EPA, RVO, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on June 28, 2019, announcing that the EPA Safer Choice Program is accepting submissions for its 2019 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards. The Safer Choice Program partners with businesses and others to help consumers and commercial buyers identify products with safer chemical ingredients, “without sacrificing quality or performance.” Toward this end, according to EPA, the Safer Choice Program certifies products containing ingredients that have met the Program’s “specific and rigorous human health and environmental toxicological criteria.” The Safer Choice Program allows the use of its label on products that perform and contain safer ingredients, as determined by expert evaluation. According to EPA, recognition by the Safer Choice Program represents a high level of achievement in formulating products that are safer for people and the environment. EPA states that the purpose of the Partner of the Year Awards “is to recognize the leadership contributions of Safer Choice partners and stakeholders who, over the past year, have shown outstanding achievement in the design, manufacture, selection, and use of products with safer chemicals.” All Safer Choice stakeholders and Program participants in good standing are eligible for recognition. According to the notice, interested parties must inform the Program that they would like to be considered for an award and submit supporting information. Submissions are due July 31, 2019. EPA will recognize award winners at a Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards ceremony in fall 2019.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On June 10, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Ceremony, where four awards were given to academics, scientists, and business innovators across the industry sector. Promoting environmental and economic benefits of developments in green chemistry, EPA, in partnership with the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute granted four awards. Congratulated by EPA Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, the 2019 awardees included:

  • Academic Award -- Professor Sanjoy Banerjee, The City University of New York – Energy Institute, Rechargeable Alkaline Zn-MnO2 Batteries for Grid Storage Applications;
     
  • Small Business Award -- Kalion, Inc., Microbially Produced High-Purity Glucaric Acid for Diverse Uses;
     
  • Greener Synthetic Pathways Award -- Merck & Co., Innovating for a Greener Future: Development of a Green & Sustainable Manufacturing Process for ZerbacaTM; and
     
  • Greener Reaction Conditions Award -- WSI, TRUpathTM.
Dunn thanked ACS for its support and highlighted the importance of the awarded technologies in supporting economic growth while reducing energy use, hazardous chemistry, and protecting water. Dunn’s remarks included a note on the need for more people who chose to be in the science field, especially those who support green chemistry. Dunn also pointed out the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention’s (OCSPP) work in implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) measures, stating that EPA staff is currently working “fast and furiously.”
 
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. congratulates all ACS Green Chemistry Challenge Award Winners for their invaluable contributions to a more sustainable and renewable future.
Tags: EPA, GCCA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 30, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released in final the regulatory changes allowing gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) to take advantage of the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver that applies to E10 during the summer months. This means that E15 can now be sold year-round in the U.S. without additional RVP control rather than just eight months of the year. EPA also released in final the rulemaking regulatory changes to modify certain elements of the renewable identification number (RIN) compliance system under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. Aiming to increase transparency to the market and deter price manipulation, the reforms to RIN markets include a requirement for public disclosure when RIN holdings exceed specified thresholds, and the collection of additional data to improve EPA oversight.

Tags: EPA, E15, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 20, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that on May 30, 2019, it will begin publishing Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5 notices, including premanufacture notices (PMN), microbial commercial activity notices (MCAN), and significant new use notices (SNUN), their attachments, including any health and safety studies, any modifications thereto, and all other associated information in ChemView -- in the form they are received by EPA, without review by EPA.  EPA states that it will not be reviewing confidential business information (CBI)-sanitized filings before publishing.  EPA states that this announcement will be the first of several reminders that EPA sends and, in addition, EPA has incorporated a reminder to check accompanying sanitized submissions as part of the Central Data Exchange (CDX) reporting module for TSCA Section 5 notices.
 
EPA’s announcement states the following as guidance for submitters to take heed of before submitting their TSCA Section 5 notices:

  1. Verify the asserted CBI claims are correct and consistent; and
     
  2. Verify the sanitized versions of the form, attachments, and file names are checked for proper and consistent CBI redactions and that watermarks or stamps indicating CBI are removed.
Tags: EPA, TSCA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 21, 2019, EPA announced a new version of a mapping tool designed to assist in the reduction of food waste by displaying facility-specific information about potential generators and recipients of excess food. According to EPA, the Excess Food Opportunities Map serves as an online “matching” service, linking, for example, owners of anaerobic digestion facilities with people looking to dispose of organic waste, including excess food. These anaerobic digestion facilities control organic decomposition in an oxygen-free, sealed tank to produce bioproducts and biosolids for on-site use or sale. This interactive map is part of EPA’s attempt to address the 133 billion pounds of wasted food in the U.S. through the diversion from landfills. It displays locations of potential excess food generators and recipients of excess food in industrial, commercial, and institutional sectors. The interactive and easy-to-use map was initially designed in 2014 by the Office of Research and Development’s (ORD) Regional Sustainability and Environmental Sciences Research Program (RESES). Since then, it was taken over by the Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) and has evolved from a regional tool to a national one. The most recent version 2.0 includes 1.2 million potential excess food generators and identifies about 4,000 recipients.

Tags: EPA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 10, 2019, at 5:00 p.m., the American Chemical Society (ACS) will hold the 2019 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.  Sponsored by EPA’s OCSPP, in partnership with the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® and members of the chemical community, these prestigious annual awards recognize chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use.  If you are interested in attending this event, please RSVP to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.
 
EPA usually presents one Green Chemistry Challenge Award in each award category. For the 2019 competition, there are five award categories:
  • Focus Area 1: Greener Synthetic Pathways;
     
  • Focus Area 2: Greener Reaction Conditions;
     
  • Focus Area 3: The Design of Greener Chemicals;
     
  • Small Business* (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by a small business); and
     
  • Academic (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by an academic researcher).

 
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