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 25, 2018, the European Union (EU) Supreme Court of Justice ruled that plants with genes that have been altered, even without the insertion of foreign DNA, are classified as genetically modified organisms (GMO) and therefore must undergo the same safety checks for their impacts on the environment and human health as organisms with foreign DNA.  According to Bio-Based World News, the ruling “is seen as a victory for environmentalists but a blow for the bio-economy” due to the much stricter rules that apply to GMOs.  Bio-based chemicals often require genome editing to provide renewable substitutes for petrochemical building blocks.  EuropaBio’s Secretary General, John Brennan, commented on this new ruling stating that it lacks regulatory clarity that is needed by EU researchers, academics, and innovators in the industry to deliver solutions.  EuropaBio plans to engage EU Member States and citizens in providing a fact-based dialogue on what genome editing is, and what it will or will not be used for.  The Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology’s Director, Detlef Weigel, also criticized the ruling, stating that it was “a sad day for European science.”

Tags: EU, GE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 20, 2018, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Department of Transportation launched a consultation to explore the impact of introducing E10 fuel to the UK market.  Earlier this year, changes were made to the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) that requires transport fuel supplies to increase the amount of renewable fuel supplied in the UK beyond the current five percent ethanol blend, up to a limit of ten percent by 2032.  This plan is a component of the Road to Zero Strategy, announced on July 9, 2018, a commitment by the UK government to dramatically reduce transport emissions and move towards a zero emissions future.  The consultation is seeking views on: 

  • Whether and how to introduce E10 petrol in the UK;
  • The reintroduction of an E5 protection grade to ensure standard petrol remains available at an affordable price; and
  • The introduction of new fuel labeling at petrol pumps and on new cars.

Responses are being accepted through September 16, 2018.

Tags: UK, Biofuel, E10

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 27, 2018, representatives from 11 European companies and universities gathered in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, to kick-off the EU-funded Rewofuel project.  This three-year, €19.7 million (about $23 million) project will demonstrate and evaluate how to best use wood residues from the forest industry to produce biofuels, with a long-term goal of starting new biorefineries across Europe. Rewofuel is a collaborative project that is expected to run for three years, and is being worked on by SEKAB E-Technology, Peab Asphalt, Sky NRG, Global Bioenergies, Neste Engineering Solutions, Repsol, Ajinomoto, Eurolysine, IPSB, TechnipFMC, and Linz University.  Jean-Baptiste Barbaroux, Chief Corporate Officer at Global Bioenergies, said of the project, “By combining technologies and know-how from the leading biofuels actors across Europe, the project Rewofuel will be able to demonstrate the increasingly important role of using forest materials in the European renewable energy transition. We look forward to contributing directly to the European climate and energy targets.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 14, 2018, the European Union (EU) reached a deal on the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII),which sets new targets for renewables. REDII represents stricter targets than those discussed in Brussels in 2014, upping the percentage of the EU’s energy that must come from renewable sources to 32 percent of total energy consumption by 2030. The agreement also states that at least 14 percent of transportation fuel must come from renewable sources by 2030, and includes a plan to phase out crop-based biofuels by capping the percentage of such biofuel counted towards EU Renewable Energy requirements at 7 percent of all road and rail transport. In addition to capping the counted percentage of crop-based biofuels, REDII requires the share of advanced biofuels used in transportation to reach 1 percent by 2025, and 3.5 percent by 2030. This agreement is still draft legislation with certain details left to be determined by the European Commission, including a plan to create a certification process of low indirect land use change (ILUC) biofuels that will phase out high-ILUC biofuels, including those made from palm oil. The European Parliament and the European Council still need to approve formally REDII before it goes into effect.

Tags: EU, REDII, ILUC

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 5, 2018, Brazil’s National Energy Policy Council (CNPE) set a target to reduce fuel emissions ten percent by 2028. These targets are part of the RenovaBio law, passed in December 2017, that aims to meet Brazil’s commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement by increasing the share of ethanol and biodiesel in Brazil’s fuel mix and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Andre Rocha, president of the National Sugarcane/Ethanol Forum, a group of 16 state sugar/ethanol producers associations, told Bloomberg Environment (subscription required) that the ten percent target “is not very ambitious, but is sufficient to encourage biofuel producers’ to expand output.”
 
The passage of RenovaBio will set up a carbon credit market for biofuel producers to trade carbon dioxide emissions credits with fuel distributors. Fuel distributors must either purchase credits or additional biofuels to meet annual emissions reductions targets. This carbon credit market will go into effect in 2020, with the carbon credits expected to result in $341 billion in biofuel investments and 8.3 billion additional gallons of ethanol and biodiesel consumption by 2028. On June 11, 2018, The Wilson Center hosted a meeting with a delegation from Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy to discuss the implementation of RenovaBio. The slides from the presentation are available online.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 17, 2018, it was announced that Japan’s new biofuel policy will allow imports of ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE) made from U.S. corn-based ethanol.  Japan has updated its sustainability policy to tighten the carbon intensity reduction requirements of ethanol that is used to make ETBE from a 50 percent reduction to a 55 percent reduction.  Originally, the policy only allowed sugarcane-based ethanol for import and production of ETBE, but the sugarcane-produced ethanol was not able to meet the 55 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction standard.  The new regulations will allow U.S. corn-based ethanol to meet up to 44 percent of the total estimated annual demand of 217 million gallons used to make ETBE, or as much as 95.5 million gallons of ethanol annually.
 
“The U.S. Grains Council is pleased by this decision and that Japan recognizes these improved benefits of U.S. product. We continue to work around the world, sharing the benefits of U.S. ethanol with other countries that are serious about reducing their GHG emissions,” stated Tom Sleight, President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Grains Council, which has an office in Japan working closely with the Japanese government and industry.  “From this decision, it is unequivocal that continued improvements in carbon intensity reductions are critical to gain and maintain market access for U.S. ethanol.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 10, 2018, Vivergo Fuels announced that it was re-opening its bioethanol plant following the passing of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). The Vivergo plant, the largest plant in the United Kingdom (UK) and the second largest producer of bioethanol in Europe, was originally shut down due to unfavorable trading conditions and uncertainty about the future of renewable fuel policies. RTFO will increase the use of renewable fuels in transport from current levels of 4.75 percent to 9.75 percent by 2020, but Vivergo is now calling for the introduction of E10 fuel by the end of 2018. E10 is widely used in the United States, as well as France, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Canada, and Australia. Vivergo argues that introducing E10 in the UK would provide an immediate impact on transport emissions, provide high quality employment in the region, and spur further investment in renewables.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 3, 2018, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) announced that companies from Argentina and Indonesia will face new anti-dumping duties after findings by the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) that imports of biodiesel at less than fair value materially injured the U.S. biodiesel industry. Commerce determined that the Argentinian and Indonesian imports were sold in the U.S. at dumping margins of up to 86.41 percent and 276.65 percent, respectively. A full report containing the views of USITC and information developed during the investigations will be available by May 7, 2018, and will be accessible via the USITC website.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 28, 2018, Bioenergy Australia and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) released “Biofuels to bioproducts: A growth industry for Australia.” The paper calls for the implementation of a Five-Point Plan creating a bioenergy policy framework to spur growth in Ausralia’s bioeconomy.  The paper also argues that the current lack of policy and programs encouraging the bioenergy industry have hurt Australia as it has missed out on economic, social, and environmental benefits that other countries have experienced as a result of bioeconomy growth. It is suggested that “increased use of 10 per cent ethanol-blended petrol (E10) in Australia could create more than 8600 direct & indirect jobs, attract $1.56 billion in investment and generate more than $1.1 billion in additional revenue each year in regional areas.” The researchers proposed a Five-Point Plan in the paper, which includes:

  1. Developing a national biofuels, biobased products, and bioeconomy strategy;
  2. Implementing a national biofuels mandate supporting the introduction of higher quality fuels;
  3. Providing supporting mechanisms of education, incentives, and infrastructure;
  4. Establishing policy frameworks for advanced/drop-in biofuels, biochemical, and biobased products; and
  5. Supporting commercial developments through industry and research collaboration.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

According to documents from the European Union (EU), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the EU must remove anti-dumping (AD) duties on biodiesel imports from 13 Argentine and Indonesian producers.  Importers will be able to claim back duties that were paid in the past.  While the companies that challenged the measures are no longer subject to AD duties, the duties still apply to companies not covered under the legal challenge.  The EU initially appealed the September 2016 ECJ ruling to annul the duties but later dropped the appeal.  In addition to ECJ, the World Trade Organization has ruled against the EU AD duties, which were established in 2013.  Indonesia intends to challenge the biodiesel duties established in the U.S. and to continue expanding biodiesel subsidies to cover palm oil blended fuels for use by the mining and power sector.


 
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