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 May 11, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a proposed renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel volumes rule for 2019 to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for pre-publication review.  The proposed rule addresses 2019 renewable blending obligations for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total biofuel, with a proposed 2020 percentage standard for biomass-based diesel. The 2019 blending requirement for biomass-based diesel is 2.1 billion gallons and was included in a final rule from 2017.

Tags: EPA, RFS, OMB

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 3, 2018, the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) announced that it had submitted a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to provide waivers from RFS requirements. Michael McAdams, President of ABFA, stated:

 “We have seen reports that the number of small refinery exemptions recently granted for compliance years 2016 and 2017 have doubled compared to previous years. ABFA members are concerned that Administrator Pruitt is granting these exemptions in an arbitrary and capricious manner to undisclosed parties behind closed doors with no accountability for its decision-making process.”

“The news reports about these exemptions have had immediate and significant market impacts on the prices of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) for the biomass-based diesel (D4) and overall renewable fuel (D6) pools,” continued McAdams. “Dropping RIN prices disincentivize blending, causing economic harm to ABFA’s members and posing a threat to the integrity of the RFS program at large.​

These concerns originated when a large oil refinery, Andeavor, was granted a hardship waiver, which is typically given to small refineries producing less than 75,000 barrels per day that suffer a disproportionate economic hardship from the cost of RFS compliance. For more information, seeOpen Letter From Iowan Biofuel Producers Urges Protection Of RFS” on the BRAG blog.

Tags: EPA, RFS, ABFA

 

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 25, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was seeking applications for the 2018 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards in a notice in the Federal Register.  At the 2018 Partner of the Year Awards, Safer Choice will recognize stakeholder organizations from five broad categories:

  • Formulators/Product Manufacturers of both Consumer and Institutional/Industrial products;
  • Purchasers and Distributors;
  • Retailers;
  • Supporters (e.g., non-governmental organizations); and
  • Innovators (e.g., chemical manufacturers).

EPA states it developed the Partner of the Year Awards to recognize Safer Choice stakeholders “who have advanced the goals of the Pollution Prevention Act by reducing pollution at its source through safer chemistry.”  All applications and accompanying materials must be received by Wednesday, June 27, 2018.  Award winners will be recognized at a ceremony in the fall of 2018See alsoEPA To Hold Safer Choice Partner & Stakeholder Summit 2018."  More information is available in our memorandum “ACS GCI Announces Opening of 2018 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards; EPA Announces Opening of 2018 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

EPA recently announced that it will be hosting a Safer Choice Partner & Stakeholder Summit on May 14, 2018, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, that will “build off of the previous Summits, exploring topics of importance to stakeholders and the program. The Summit will include informational sessions, and also breakout sessions with a focus on dialogue and developing solutions that can advance Safer Choice.”  Registration is available online. See alsoEPA Seeking Applications For 2018 Safer Choice Partner Of The Year Awards.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 11, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the third Safer Choice Partner & Stakeholder Summit 2018 in a Federal Register notice. The Summit is open to all Safer Choice program partners and stakeholders, and will include informational and breakout sessions, with a focus on dialogue and problem-solving. The event is being held on May 14, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EDT) in Oxon Hill, MD. Registration is available online.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 29, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a Federal Register notice it is seeking public comment on the use of isobutanol in gasoline.  EPA specifically seeks comment on issues to consider regarding an application submitted by Butamax Advanced Biofuels, LLC (Butamax), a manufacturer of isobutanol, pursuant to the regulations titled “Registration of Fuels and Fuel Additives” for the registration of isobutanol as a gasoline additive at up to 16 volume percent, and any supplemental actions EPA should consider under the Clean Air Act (CAA). EPA states that Butamax’s information would likely satisfy the applicable registration requirements, and, due to the likelihood of this registration, there is potential for the widespread introduction of isobutanol into commerce.  Further information on biobutanol, the common name for isobutanol made from renewable sources, is available in the Federal Register notice.  Comments are due by April 30, 2018.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

During a visit to New Hampshire on February 13, 2018, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt provided Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH) a letter announcing EPA's efforts to work towards a carbon-neutral policy for biomass and clarify federal procurement recommendations for responsibly managed forests.  According to Pruitt, EPA recognizes the importance of the forest products industry to the State of New Hampshire and is focused on clarifying regulations that were encumbering the industry.  Following the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, which directs EPA to recognize proactively forest biomass as a renewable agency source and establish policies that reflect its carbon neutrality, a multi-agency effort was initiated between EPA, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a mechanism for federal cooperation and consistency on the use of biomass.  To support this effort, EPA aims to ensure its federal procurement recommendations encompass the broad reach of responsibly managed forests and ensure parity with or deferral to the USDA mandatory purchasing requirements established under the Biopreferred Program.  Additionally, EPA is incorporating into its ongoing review of, and improvement to, Clean Air Act permitting programs a concerted effort to develop a range of options consistent with a carbon-neutral policy for biomass from forests and other lands and sectors.


 

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) much anticipated and highly acclaimed annual Forecast, “Predictions and Outlook for U.S. Federal and International Chemical Regulatory Policy 2018,” is now available.  In the Forecast, the lawyers, scientists, and chemical regulatory specialists at B&C and its affiliated consulting firm, The Acta Group (Acta®), offer comprehensive and highly useful observations on the fast-changing and nuanced area of domestic and global chemical legal, scientific, and regulatory issues expected to be hot topics in 2018.  This 38-page document is chock-full of insights, predictions, and useful information.

Happy New Year and enjoying reading our predictions!

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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 27, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to approve new fuel pathways under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  Specifically, EPA is proposing to amend RFS regulations to define the term “distillers sorghum oil” and to add approved pathways from the production of biodiesel and heating oil from distillers sorghum oil via a transesterification process, and renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) produced from distillers sorghum oil via a hydrotreating process.  Distillers sorghum oil is grain sorghum oil extracted at any point downstream from sorghum grinding at dry mill ethanol plants. 
 
The proposed rule outlines EPA’s analysis of the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with certain biofuels produced from distiller sorghum oil.  Based on its assessment, EPA determined that using distillers sorghum oil as feedstock results in no significant agricultural sector GHG emissions, and that biodiesel and heating oil produced from distillers sorghum oil via a transesterification process, and renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and LPG produced from distillers sorghum oil via a hydrotreating process, would meet the lifecycle GHG emissions reduction threshold of 50 percent required for advanced biofuels and biomass-based diesel under the RFS program.  Comments on the analysis are due by January 26, 2018.
 
In addition to EPA approval of the new pathway, producers may wish to confirm that the final sorghum-based product and all intermediates are listed on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory or covered by an exemption prior to commercialization.  While naturally occurring substances are automatically added to the TSCA Inventory, the TSCA “naturally occurring exemption” is very narrow.  Specifically, a naturally occurring substance includes “any chemical substance which is naturally occurring and:  (1) [w]hich is (i) unprocessed or (ii) processed only by manual, mechanical, or gravitational means; by dissolution in water; by flotation; or by heating solely to remove water; or (2) [w]hich is extracted from air by any means.”

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 
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