By Lynn L. Bergeson
On November 4, 2019, 60 organizations unified in an effort to urge U.S. President Donald Trump to reconsider EPA’s proposed amendments to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. Signed by organizations such as the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, the letter to the President indicates flaws within the aforementioned proposal released on October 15, 2019. Arguing that the proposed amendments would not accurately account for small refiner exemptions (SRE), the letter authors state that “[t]he flawed proposal swaps out a critical component of the SRE remedy sought by farmers and the biofuels industry,” failing to achieve its mission to incentivize farm economies. Given the proposal to recover gallons of biofuel exemptions based on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) recommendations, the proposed amendment would lead to a “bureaucratically uncertain path that recovers only one fraction of those gallons lost to SREs and could result in RFS backsliding in 2020.” Therefore, the letter concludes by urging President Trump to consider SRE accountability based on a rolling average of the actual volumes exempted by EPA during the three compliance years. Similar concerns and requests have been expressed by many industry stakeholders via docket comments as well as during last week’s public hearing held by EPA. The comment period ends on November 29, 2019, and doubts continue as industry expects EPA’s final rulemaking.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
On October 28, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a supplemental proposal on adjustments to the percentage standards for 2020 that result from the amended definitions of two terms used to calculate the percentage standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Signed and pre-published on October 15, 2019, by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the notice of the proposed rule is no surprise. The proposed supplemental proposal, if approved, will establish the cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel volumes for 2020 and the biomass-based diesel volume for 2021. Although the rule does not change the volumes for 2020 and 2021 proposed in July 2019, it proposes and seeks comment on adjustments to the way that annual renewable fuel percentages are calculated. Annual renewable fuel percentage standards are used to calculate the number of gallons each obligated party is required to blend into their fuel or to obtain otherwise renewable identification numbers (RIN) to demonstrate compliance. Specifically, EPA is seeking comment on projecting the volume of gasoline and diesel that will be exempt in 2020 due to small refinery exemptions based on a three-year average of the relief recommended by DOE, including where DOE had recommended partial exemptions. EPA intends to grant partial exemptions in appropriate circumstances when adjudicating 2020 exemption petitions. EPA proposes to use this value to adjust the way it calculates renewable fuel percentages.
Comments must be received on or prior to November 29, 2019.
On October 30, 2019, EPA held a public hearing on the proposed rule in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where affected stakeholders had a chance to provide testimony. One of the testimonies given was from Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Geoff Cooper. Cooper told EPA that “this proposal fails to reflect the letter and spirit of the president’s commitment to restore integrity to the RFS, fails to assure that the statutorily-required 15-billion-gallon level for conventional biofuels will be met, and fails to restore stability in the marketplace by definitively ending the practice of allowing small refinery exemptions from eroding RFS biofuel demand.” Outlining the weaknesses of EPA’s proposal, Cooper highlighted that not only has EPA seldom followed DOE’s recommendations in deciding small refinery exemption (SRE) petitions, but also that it will not succeed. According to Cooper, because EPA bases averages of what DOE recommends and not of the waivers actually granted, and the former is significantly less than the latter, the proposed rule is not promising. Cooper’s full written testimony can be accessed here.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
This month, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, published its 2019 Sustainability Report titled The Future Is Clean. In its 2019 report, ACI outlines its sustainability goals, which include increased transparency, the reduction of GHG emissions, and the move toward a circular global economy. As part of its activities to achieve such goals, ACI has worked on filling knowledge gaps, harnessing power in the power of convening, uniting for a cleaner world, and further developing its sustainability organizations. In its report, ACI also highlights its support for the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how its future goals can positively contribute to the SDGs.
Managed by B&C® Consortia Management (BCCM), BRAG is a consortium of international and well-respected member organizations and companies engaged in the development of biobased or renewable chemical products. BRAG members recognize the importance of advocacy, education, and communication. For further information, see the BRAG webpage on membership.
The Product Stewardship Society (PSS) Board of Directors inducted Lynn L. Bergeson as President during its annual board meeting preceding the Product Stewardship conference being held in Columbus, Ohio, September 10-12, 2019. Ms. Bergeson, Managing Partner of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), will serve as President through 2021. Ms. Bergeson has served on the PSS Board of Directors since 2015.
PSS is an affiliate of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA®), launched in 2012 to drive the product stewardship profession forward by providing resources, professional development, and networking opportunities that serve the needs of professionals globally. PSS and AIHA announced in late 2018 the joint development of an ANSI-certified product stewardship credential, and progress toward the launch of the test-based credential continues in 2019. PSS recently published Professional Practices of Product Stewardship, a first-of-its-kind textbook providing deep insight into core areas of product stewardship, including product risk management, product life cycle management, management of product compliance and liability, and product stewardship strategy and program management. Other PSS publications include Realizing the Full Business Value of Product Stewardship, for which Ms. Bergeson authored the chapter “Legal Considerations Relating to Tort and Product Liability Law,” and Core Competencies for the Product Stewardship Professional. All publications are available on the PSS website.
Lynn L. Bergeson is also Vice Chair of the International Bar Association (IBA) Agricultural Law Section, Vice Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Committee on Pesticides, Chemical Regulation, and Right-to-Know, and a former Chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. Ms. Bergeson is consistently recognized among the elite practitioners of chemical regulatory law by Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and The Washingtonian, among others. Chambers and Partners USA 2019 edition, where she was ranked Band 1, notes Ms. Bergeson’s “stellar reputation in the environment space”and quotes clients as saying: “If you need advice in the chemical regulatory arena, there is no better choice than Lynn.”Ms. Bergeson is also President of The Acta Group (Acta®), B&C’s scientific and regulatory consulting arm with offices in Washington, D.C., the United Kingdom, and Belgium, and President of B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C. (BCCM), which helps the chemical industry form consortia to achieve shared research, testing, and regulatory goals.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On September 18, 2019, the D.C. Women’s Business Center (WBC) and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) will host the 2019 Just Ambitious Small Business Awards. The awards honor woman entrepreneurs who have demonstrated achievements, innovation, and vision in support of the District of Columbia’s small business community and economic vitality. WBC and NCRC are now accepting applications for the 2019 awards in the following categories:
- NCRC Community Engagement of the Year
- NCRC Youth Entrepreneur of the Year
- Environmental Entrepreneur of the Year
- Start-Up of the Year
- Veteran Woman-Owned Business of the Year
- Woman Empowerment Entrepreneur of the Year
- Womanpreneur Under 40 of the Year
Businesses can be nominated for multiple awards. WBC and NCRC encourage self-nominations. To qualify for the award, applicants must either be or nominate a registered business entity that has been in business for at least one full year. The business must be at least 51 percent woman-owned. Non-profits that devote a significant portion of time to assisting entrepreneurs may also apply. The deadline for application submissions is September 4, 2019, by close of business.
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a proud sponsor of the Environmental Law Institute’s (ELI) GreenTech Conference, bringing together leaders from some of the world’s most innovative companies to engage with policymakers, lawmakers, technologists, and non-governmental organizations (NGO) to explore environmental protection in an era of transformative technological change. Dr. Andrey J. Zarur, CEO and President of GreenLight Biosciences, will discuss using targeted biocontrol of RNA interference to increase yields during the Food for the Future panel on October 2, 2019. Join B&C, ELI, Intel, Amazon, and Google, among others, in Seattle, Washington, from October 2-3, 2019, for this exciting conference.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On July 8, 2019, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) announced the winners of the Consider Corn Challenge II, a challenge intended to highlight the range of biobased materials that can be produced with field corn feedstock. The three winners included:
- ExoPolymer, Inc. for a plan to create a new profile of customizable, polysaccharide-based hydrocolloids that are domestically produced by microbial fermentation using corn sugar as a feedstock. These new hydrocolloids will meet the growing needs and performance gaps in the healthcare, personal care, food, pharmaceutical and energy industries.
- Sumatra Biorenewables, LLC for the development and production of novel monomers that are incorporated into polyamides and polyesters to provide tensile strength and low water absorption. These superior performance-advantaged materials have wide-ranging applications in the specialty nylon's industry. Opportunities include improved hydrophobicity, anti-static, flame-retardant, or have tuned mechanical strength to meet customer specifications.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service: National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, for a plan to use emulsifiers, polymer films, and coatings made from corn starch and vegetable oil rather than petroleum.
The diversification of biobased uses for field corn is important in an industry that is working to move away from ethanol production as second-generation biofuel technologies become more advanced and prove to be more sustainable than earlier biofuel types. Nebraska farmer and NCGA Feed Food and Industrial Action Team Chair Dan Wesely said of the challenge, “It is encouraging for farmers to know that companies are looking for more environmentally friendly alternatives for biobased products.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On June 18, 2019, Neste, a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, and LyondellBassell announced the first commercial scale parallel production of biobased polypropylene and biobased low-density polyethylene. This project used Neste’s renewable hydrocarbons, derived from sustainable biobased raw materials, such as waste and residue oils, to produce food packaging bioplastics marked as Circulen and Circulen Plus by LyondellBasell. "We are excited to enable the plastics industry to introduce more bio-based material into its offering. It is very satisfying to see Neste's renewable hydrocarbons performing perfectly in a commercial scale production of bio-based polymers, providing a drop-in replacement option to fossil materials," stated Neste's President and CEO Peter Vanacker.
Last week, from April 3-5, 2019, Biofuels Digest hosted its annual Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference (ABLC) in Washington, D.C. Among those present were various industry stakeholders, government representatives, and federal agency staffers. Innovative technologies were presented and much networking was done. The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group’s (BRAG®) presence was welcomed and provided an opportunity for industry stakeholders to gain insight into regulatory developments in the biobased sector, particularly during the Regulatory Workshop that took place on April 4, 2019. The workshop was moderated by Richard Engler, Ph.D., Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. While Engler covered timelines for approval of new substances, Ray Matulka, The Burdock Group, covered new food or feed additives, which is especially important if fermentation byproducts will be used as animal feed. Graham Noyes, Noyes Law Firm, covered California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program, its success, and similar other state-level efforts.
A large number of panels held during the conference circled back to concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program and measures associated with its implementation. Highlighting the importance of the intersection between policy and commerce, panelists in the Bioeconomy Policy Forum were particularly frustrated with the number of small refinery exemptions under the Trump Administration. The fact that, under President Trump’s two years, a greater number of small refinery waivers has been granted than during the Obama Administration’s eight years was highly criticized. Panelists went as far as stating that these measures under the RFS Program are leading to demand destruction for renewable fuels.
In agreement with industry, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) expressed frustration with the small refinery exemptions granted thus far. Despite these obstacles, however, Senator Grassley also stated that he is encouraged by the Trump Administration in working on short- and long-term solutions for issues that often create barriers towards alternative energy goals. Senator Grassley ensured his support for industry, emphasizing alternative energy’s key role in supporting national security, the economy, good environment, and energy independence.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On April 2, 2019, Nouryon, a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, announced the launch of a new biobased polymer for “weightless” hair styling. The newly developed biobased polymer, called Amaze SP, assists formulators to meet the latest trends in hair styling, which include lighter textures. Amaze SP is plant-based and part of Nouryon’s efforts in expanding its offerings to customers in the personal care market, which also includes a recently developed film-forming polymer for use in high SPF sunscreen products.