On March 9, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that its My Renewable Diesel helped reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 6.7 million tons in 2016. The reduction of carbon emissions from MY Renewable Diesel is equivalent to the removal of 2.4 million passenger cars from the road for one full year. The low-carbon diesel, which is refined from renewable raw materials, is suitable for all diesel-powered passenger cars and heavy transport vehicles, including buses, garbage trucks, and emergency vehicles, without the need for vehicle-related investments or modifications. Neste aims to increase the total annual GHG emission reduction volume to seven million tons in 2017.
On February 22, 2016, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) published the results of a study on the impact of the ethanol industry on the U.S. economy. The study, which was commissioned by ABF Economics, found that the U.S. ethanol industry contributed over $42 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and supported 340,000 jobs in 2016. Additionally, the report states that the ethanol industry provided significant contributions in terms of displacing imported crude oil and petroleum products, and generating tax revenue.
According to the report, the U.S. produced 15.2 billion gallons of ethanol in 2016, which resulted in:
||Nearly $14.5 billion to the U.S. economy from manufacturing;
||More than $22.5 billion in income for American households;
||An estimated $4.9 billion in federal tax revenue and $3.6 billion in revenue to state and local governments; and
||The displacement of 510 million barrels of imported oil.
On March 2, 2017, Kathleen M. Roberts, Executive Director of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), participated as a panelist alongside four other trade associations in the “Domestic Policy Forum” at the 2017 Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference (ABLC2017). Ms. Roberts discussed the challenges facing the bioeconomy, including the implementation of the amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), issues with the TSCA nomenclature system, and the potential for increased scrutiny of renewable products under the current Administration, as well as the work being done by BRAG to address these challenges and to level the playing field for biobased chemicals. If companies wish to ensure equitable regulations for biobased chemicals and products, they should consider joining BRAG to assist with future engagement with EPA.
On February 23, 2017, the Sierra Club filed a notice of intent to sue EPA for failure to conduct the required environmental impact analysis on the RFS program
. The notice states that EPA failed to assess and report to Congress on the environmental and resource conservation impacts of the RFS program and failed to complete the required anti-backsliding study to determine whether the renewable fuel volumes adversely impacted air quality. According to the notice, EPA has issued only one triennial report on the environmental impact of the program despite the requirement under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) that EPA report to Congress every three years. EISA also mandates that EPA complete an anti-backsliding study within 18 months of the law’s passage, which EPA has failed to conduct. Although EPA has made commitments to complete the second triennial report by December 31, 2017
, and the anti-backsliding study by September 30, 2024
, the Sierra Club stated that such a delay disregards the purpose of the reporting requirements, which is to inform EPA’s annual RFS volume developments and inform Congress of the program’s impacts.
On February 9, 2017, Avantium announced a partnership with AkzoNobel (a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®)), Chemport Europe, RWE Generation, and Staatsbosbeheer to develop a reference plant at the Chemie Park Delfzijl in the Netherlands. The plant will use a new technology, referred to as the Zambezi process, for the cost-effective production of high-purity glucose from non-food biomass, including forestry residue, pulp, and agricultural byproducts. Once the woody biomass is converted into sugars and lignin, it can be used to produce a wide range of biobased chemicals and materials. The design of the plant includes an expansion-ready footprint to enable a rapid increase in capacity following the demonstration phase.
Each partner will contribute a unique strength to the overall project. The infrastructure, utilities, and expertise of the reference plant will be based on the AkzoNobel site in Delfzijl. The forestry residue feedstock will be sourced by Staatsbosbeheer. RWE Generation will generate renewable energy from the bio-lignin residue of the Zambezi process, and Chemport Europe will provide strategic support to the project through a range of initiatives.
On February 7, 2017, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, and the U.S. Grains Council sent a joint letter to President Donald Trump to request the Administration’s assistance in addressing China’s recent implementation of protectionist trade barriers, which are shutting out U.S. exports of ethanol and distillers dried grains. The letter states that China’s actions have significantly injured U.S. ethanol producers and farmers, and undermined the substantial investments made to develop a cooperative and mutually beneficial trade relationship with the country. In 2015, China imported 6.5 million metric tons of U.S. distillers dried grains, and began importing U.S. ethanol as part of an effort to increase the use of cleaner-burning renewable fuels and reduce smog formation. By the end of 2016, China had become the U.S. ethanol industry’s third-largest export market. In September 2016, after a nine month investigation regarding alleged dumping and injury to domestic industries, China imposed a preliminary antidumping duty of 33.8 percent against U.S. distillers dried grains, as well as a countervailing duty of ten to 10.7 percent -- despite the fact that the investigation did not find any evidence of dumping or injury to domestic industries. The letter states the details of this investigation and the U.S. industries’ cooperation throughout the investigation, and requests that the incoming U.S. Trade Representative place the Chinese trade barriers near the top of the China trade agenda.
On January 17, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the rebranding of its “Neste Renewable Diesel” to “Neste MY Renewable Diesel,” and the updating of other names within the renewable products family to “Neste MY” brand names. Neste MY Renewable Diesel is a low-carbon drop-in renewable fuel that does not require vehicle modifications, and can be refueled into any blending ratio due to its compatibility with existing diesel fuels. Compared to conventional petroleum diesel, Neste MY Renewable Diesel enables up to 80 percent lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the lifecycle.