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 February 14, 2017, the Government of Alberta announced the recipients of C$40 million in grant funding under the Bioenergy Producer Program (BPP).  Four biofuel companies, including Permolex Ltd., Archer Daniels Midland Agri-Industries, Invigor Bioenergy, and Enerkem Alberta Biofuels, were among the successful BPP applicants to receive a grant for the first program period.  Each grant was awarded based on the amount of bioenergy the company committed to produce between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2017.  The second program period will grant up to C$20 million to bioenergy producers based on production between April 1, 2017, and September 30, 2017.  The goal of BPP is to support bioenergy production capacity in Alberta to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and provide value-added opportunities with economic benefits.


 

On February 4, 2017, the Canadian Department of the Environment and the Department of Health published in the Canada Gazette the draft screening assessment of the commercially relevant fungus, Trichoderma reesei, stating that the organism is nontoxic and does not require regulatory action under Section 77 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Following a screening assessment, Trichoderma reesei , which is used to convert biomass to biofuels and sugars and to produce food and health products, was found to not meet the criteria set out in CEPA Section 64 since the amount entering the environment does not pose a risk to human health.  Options are being considered, however, for follow-up activities to track changes in the commercial use of and exposure to Trichoderma reesei . Comments on the draft assessment and the related scientific considerations are due by April 5, 2017.


 

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 11, 2017, the Government of Ontario released a discussion paper titled “Developing a Modern Renewable Fuel Standard For Gasoline in Ontario,” which provides context for the new RFS requirements.  The discussion paper explains that Ontario aims to keep the following considerations in mind when designing the RFS policy:


 
Ensure a level playing field for fuels, regardless of technology or origin;
 

 
Set ambitious but achievable goals;  
 

 
Support near and long-term GHG emissions;
 

 
Improve diversity among low-carbon fuel options for consumers;  
 

 
Provide a clear performance standard and necessary certainty to support investments;
 

 
Consider the overall impact on fuel suppliers and consumers;  
 

 
Offer flexible methods for compliance supported by transparent platforms;
 

 
Complement other related policies; and  
 
Collaborate with the federal government to coordinate renewable fuels programs.


Ontario is seeking comments on the design options outlined in the discussion paper, including targets and blending requirements, flexibility mechanisms, assessing lifecycle emissions, and transparency.  Comments are due by March 12, 2017.


 

On December 5, 2016, China's National Energy Administration (NEA) published a five-year plan that aims to increase ethanol production to four million tons by 2020 despite the government maintaining strict control over the use of food grains.  The target remains unchanged from the previous five-year plan that ended in 2015.  NEA intends to increase the share of non-fossil fuel consumption from 12 percent to 15 percent by 2020, in part through the vigorous development of fiber ethanol from the inedible parts of plants.  The plan prioritizes the development of cassava and other non-grain ethanol sources over crops used for human consumption. NEA also aims to raise the country’s biomass energy capacity to 15 gigawatts by 2020.


 

On December 5, 2016, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) launched the Aapli bus service, India’s first green bus service, in Nagpur, which includes five buses that will run on ethanol biofuel.  Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, aims for Nagpur to be the first city to have all of its buses powered by biofuel through the addition of new green buses and the conversion of existing diesel-run buses.  During the launch event at Yeshwant Stadium, Gadkari stated the plan was to produce ethanol from molasses, rice, wheat straw, and bamboo using manufacturing facilities in each of the six districts of the Nagpur division.  Devendra Fadnavis, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra State, also attended the launch and stated that a similar model for a green bus service would be implemented in other major cities across the state.


 

On November 30, 2016, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), released a statement in response to the publication of the European Commission’s (EC) proposal on the revised Renewable Energy Directive (Directive) for 2021 to 2030.  The aim of the Directive is to raise renewable energy usage in Europe to 27 percent by 2030.  In the revised Directive, the EC introduced a mandate requiring fuel suppliers to include a minimum share of advanced biofuels in their offering, which will increase steadily between 2021 and 2030.  Neste highlighted the fact that for the first time renewable solutions from the aviation and marine sectors are included in the biofuels blending mandate.  Neste stated the proposal would support biofuels use and development in Europe, and provide predictability that would allow companies to plan their long-term operations and investments.  The proposal requires approval from the European Council and the European Parliament before it becomes official.


 

On November 29, 2016, the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Transportation published proposed legislative changes to the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), which is open for consultation until January 22, 2017.  Among the proposed changes is an increase in the blending mandates to 9.75 percent by volume for 2020.  The three main proposals outlined detail increasing the supply of waste derived fuels, encouraging the production of advanced renewable fuels, and setting a maximum cap for fuels from food crops.  The aim of the consultation is to determine whether further measures could be taken to minimize costs.
 
The RTFO was established to achieve the targets for renewable energy usage in the transportation sector set by the European Union by incentivizing fuel suppliers to provide biofuels at the lowest cost possible.  The objective is to encourage investment in renewable fuels so that the relative cost of biofuels decreases over time.


 

On November 3, 2016, the European Commission announced that 144 new green and low-carbon projects from 23 Member States will be funded by a €222.7 million investment from the European Union (EU) budget, which will be combined with €175.9 from additional investments.  The funding comes from the LIFE programme, the EU’s funding body for the environment and climate action, with the goal of progressing Europe towards a more sustainable future.
 
The selected projects align with the EU’s objective to reduce GHG emissions and transition to a more circular economy.  Examples of 2015 projects include:  

 

Implementation of Biodolomer®, a fossil-free biomaterial, in place of plastic packaging for four commercial reference products;

 

Production of biopolymers for the tanning industry using recycled biomass from the tanning process; and

 

Incorporation of cultivated banana organic waste fibers as an additive to create bioplastic covers to protect banana treats from UV radiation.

 

On November 8, 2016, the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) announced its members voted unanimously to publish revised Principles & Criteria that streamline the requirements and make them more user-friendly. The decision was announced at the Annual Assembly of Delegates meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam.
 
RSB stated the amendments will offer:
 


 
A new user-friendly format, enabling easy understanding of how to apply the standard; 
 

 
Streamlined and clear impact assessment requirements;
 

 
Integration of the GHG calculation requirement with other available measurement tools;
 

 
A new approach to measure GHG emissions from forestry operations;
 

 
A new requirement that provides a grievance mechanism for workers and local communities; and
 
The addition of an integrated pest management requirement.
 
The RSB Standard is considered a trusted certification by many U.S. and European regulatory agencies, as it verifies that biomaterials are ethical, sustainable, and credibly-sourced.  As a result, the independent multi-stakeholder collective claims, RSC-certified products receive swift product approval and market access.

 
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