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.
On June 4, 2018, several biofuel and agricultural groups, including the Renewable Fuels Association, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), and the National Biodiesel Board, among others, petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) obligations. The ACE announcement states that the petition asks EPA to “change its regulations to account for lost volumes of renewable fuel resulting from the unprecedented number of retroactive small refinery exemptions from [RFS] obligations recently granted by EPA.” The petition states that Section 211(o)(2)(a)(i) of the Clean Air Act “requires EPA to ensure that the annual required volumes of renewable fuel are introduced into the nation’s transportation fuel supply,” and that EPA’s “suddenly reversing its prior policy and granting retroactive exemptions to so many small refineries without adjusting its Annual Standard Equations to account for the resulting lost volumes,” means that EPA is “failing to meet its statutory obligation to ‘ensure’ that transportation fuels in the United States contain the applicable volumes of renewable fuel.” The petition requests EPA to (1) convene a proceeding to reconsider the annual standard equations in 40 C.F.R. § 80.1405(c); and (2) convene a proceeding to reconsider its final action entitled “Periodic Reviews for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program” (82 Fed. Reg. 58364 (Dec. 12, 2017)).
On June 8, 2018, petitioners in the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) case Coffeyville Resources Refining, et al. v. EPA filed their final briefs in the case challenging EPA’s final rule that established: (1) the annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel (BBD), advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel that apply to all motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported in the year 2017; and (2) the applicable volume of BBD for 2018. 81 Fed. Reg. 89746 (Dec. 12, 2016). Final briefs were filed by petitioners Coffeyville Resources Refining & Marketing, LLC, et al. and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). The lengthy briefs reiterate the petitioners’ arguments that EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in relying on incomplete and flawed information and methodology when setting the cellulosic biofuel requirements and other 2017 obligations, and that EPA violated 42 U.S.C. § 7545(o)(2)(B)(ii) when it set the 2018 BBD volume based on factors that are not among those Congress instructed the Agency to consider, including the 2018 advanced-biofuel volume. Respondent EPA and intervenors for EPA also filed final briefs. EPA argued that its use of the cellulosic waiver was reasonable and reasonably used and applied; the D.C. Circuit has previously upheld its cellulosic biofuel projection methodology; and it properly assessed and set the BBD volumes for 2018. Oral argument in this case has not yet been scheduled. All of the briefs are available on Inside EPA’s website (subscription required).
On June 4, 2018, Bloomberg Environment (subscription required) reported on the planned spinoff of DowDupont Inc’s Corteva Agriscience (Corteva) unit. This split, which is expected to occur by June 1, 2019, was originally announced on February 26, 2018, stating that Corteva will become a separate company quickly followed by Dow and DuPont as they split back into two companies. Corteva will focus on new gene-editing technology, including CRISPR-Cas9 that allows it to use genes from within a plants own DNA to create new traits, including pest resistance. Because Corteva is using existing genes rather than introducing foreign genes into plants, it has so far enjoyed lighter regulatory scrutiny than other genetically engineered crop projects. Corteva also intends to use big data to help farmers calculate specific quantities of seeds and chemicals to maximize production while minimizing costs. The emerging field of digital agriculture is expected to have a significant impact on the industry.
On June 4, 2018, Proctor & Gamble (P&G) announced the launch of Downy’s first plant-based line of fabric conditioner. In addition to powering the manufacturing process completely with renewable wind powered electricity at a zero-manufacturing waste to landfill facility, the product formula includes 70 percent biobased ingredients and the bottles are made from 25 percent post-consumer recycled content. The 70 percent claim has been certified through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred program, which provides third-party verification of a product’s biobased content. This program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and expanded by the 2014 Farm Bill to increase the development, purchase, and use of biobased products.
On May 16, 2018, Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc. announced the start of site construction for Phase 2 of the Sierra BioFuels Plant in Reno, Nevada. This commercial-scale plant will be the nation’s first to convert municipal solid waste feedstock into low-carbon, renewable jet fuel. “Launching the final construction phase of Sierra is another milestone for Fulcrum, our partners, Northern Nevada and the low-carbon fuels industry,” Jim Macias, Fulcrum’s President and Chief Executive Officer, stated during the groundbreaking event. “We’ve spent ten years developing, designing, testing, improving and demonstrating this new process so that it is now ready for commercial deployment. By converting waste into low-carbon transportation fuel, Fulcrum provides a real solution to the aviation industry’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.”
On May 9, 2018, Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance announced that its POWERply® Endure™ BIO Adhesive had earned the Certified Biobased Product label from the USDA BioPreferred Program. Tremco’s adhesive is made of 71 percent biobased material with ultra-low levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) that meet California VOC limits. Four other Tremco Roofing products have the USDA Certified Biobased Product Label, including AlphaGuard™ BIO Base Coat, AlphaGuard BIO Top Coat, Rock-It® WB, and Low Rise Foam Insulation Adhesive Green. The USDA BioPreferred Program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and expanded by the 2014 Farm Bill, and provides third-party verification of a product’s biobased content. This program was created to increase the development, purchase, and use of biobased products.