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 July 18, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a Public Hearing for Proposed Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) for 2019 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2020.  The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) testified at this meeting that EPA should set the 2020 Biomass-based Diesel volume at 2.8 billion gallons, stating that it aligns with the goals that Congress set for the RFS program, the volume is achievable in 2020, and that it will better fulfill the promise of the RFS program.  These statements come on the heels of a July 12, 2018, request by the Trump administration that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit throw out a lawsuit over previous small refiner hardship exemption waivers that EPA had granted.  Government lawyers argued that the lawsuit did not challenge a “final” agency action, so individual exemptions must be challenged in local courts.  EPA’s small refinery hardship exemptions have doubled in 2016 and 2017 when compared with previous years, with NBB estimating a decreased demand of 300 million gallons for biodiesel.  NBB argued that increasing the RFS for 2019 and 2020 is needed to reduce the uncertainty that has been caused by issuing the small refinery hardship exemptions.

Tags: Biofuel, RFS

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 16, 2018, Anellotech and Suntory announced that a new milestone had been reached in developing a 100 percent biobased plastic bottle. Anellotech is using a thermal catalytic process called Bio-TCatTM to confirm non-food based feedstocks into BTX aromatics, renewable chemicals that are structurally identical to traditional plastic components.  The BTX is now undergoing purification studies to make bio-paraxylene, a key chemical for the renewable bottles. David Sudolsky, President & CEO of Anellotech, stated “[f]ollowing our announcements earlier this year on process development and continuous operation, we are glad that significant progress continues at our TCat-8® pilot plant. We continue to move the technology towards commercialization, and shipping the pilot plant’s product for downstream evaluation is another major milestone.  Having collaborated with Suntory since 2012 to advance development of cost-competitive bio-aromatics, we hope bio-based plastics made from our Bio-TCatTM process and a 100% bio-based bottle soon become a reality.”


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

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)).

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

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).

Tags: Biofuel, RFS

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

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.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

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.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

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.”
 
Fulcrum’s thermochemical conversion process for jet fuel is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 80 percent when compared to traditional petroleum fuel. The Reno plant is scheduled to start commercial production in 2020, producing 10.5 million gallons of fuel annually. Similar plants are currently in development by Fulcrum, with eventual plans to collectively produce more than 300 million gallons of jet fuel annually. These plans have already drawn airline investors to Fulcrum, with Cathay Pacific Airways investing in 2014, and United Airlines investing in 2015.


 
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