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 and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On October 2, 2019, the Governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, announced that applications are now open for all 15 seats on the Governor’s Biofuels Council.  Established in September 2019 by Governor Walz, the Governor’s Biofuels Council advises the Governor and cabinet on how best to support Minnesota’s biofuels industry. Council members will include representatives of agriculture, biofuels, and transportation industries and environmental and conservation groups.  The Governor’s Biofuels Council is tasked with creating a report to advise the Governor and cabinet on the best methods to expand the use of biofuels, increase the carbon efficiency of biofuels, and implement biofuels as part of Minnesota’s larger goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) production in the transportation sector.  Under Governor Walz’s September 16, 2019, Executive Order, the Governor’s Biofuels Council must complete the report by November 2020.  Thus far, 30 individuals have applied, and Governor Walz encourages “Minnesotans in every corner of the state to apply and share their expertise on this critical issue.”  Interested parties can access the application here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Green Building Council Massachusetts (USGBC) recently published its 2019 Report titled Zero Energy Buildings in Massachusetts: Saving Money from the Start. The report assesses zero energy (ZE) upfront building costs, model performance, and life-cycle costs in Massachusetts (MA). Local MA leaders have been working to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce energy use in the built environment. This work has been done by retrofitting existing buildings and constructing new buildings to achieve ZE standards. Although many stakeholders and decision-makers cite high costs as the primary barrier for ZE buildings, USGBC reports that many types of ZE buildings can be constructed without an upfront cost. Also according to the report, some commercial buildings may even see return on investment in as little as one year. Key findings and policy recommendations are outlined, accompanied by examples that can be used as a template to overcome the ZE building barriers often encountered. The full report can be accessed here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On September 16, 2019, Governor of Virginia, Ralph S. Northam (D), signed Executive Order Forty-Three, establishing statewide objectives for clean energy production expansion. The target goals outlined in the Executive Order include a 30 percent increase of electricity powered by renewable energy resources by 2030, and achieving 100 percent of energy by carbon-neutral resources by 2050. Directing the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) to develop a plan of action to meet the renewable energy goals, the plan should address issues related to storage, energy efficiency, equity, and environmental justice. Governor Northam emphasizes in his Executive Order how advancements in clean energy can offer Virginia an opportunity to address inequities for Virginia’s vulnerable populations. DMME is advised to work in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Secretary of Natural Resources, and the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality to develop this plan. Governor Northam’s concerns related to this imperative issue clearly stand out in his Executive Order. The Executive Order was effective upon its signing.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

Recently, the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council (NDCUC) announced the implementation of its new program, the North Dakota Unleaded88 Expansion Program, in partnership with the North Dakota Ethanol Council (NDEC). The goal of the program is to partner with fuel retailers to provide drivers with Unleaded 88, which consists of a higher octane fuel containing 15 percent ethanol blend with 85 percent gasoline. Through June 30, 2020, NDCUC will grant funds to fuel retailers for infrastructure needs to offer Unleaded88. Claiming that Unleaded88 provides a safe, economical, and cleaner fuel option to consumers, NDCUC’s Chairman, Terry Wehlander states that 40 to 60 percent of North Dakota’s corn crop is purchased by its five ethanol plants. Therefore, Wehlander and the Chairman of NDEC both argue that increasing the availability of Unleaded88 will create more market stability for consumers and agricultural producers. Retailers interested in applying for the program can find the application and guidelines on NDCUC’s website and submit the application via e-mail.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 6, 2019, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced four grants aiming to expand biofuel access and production to advance the state’s renewable energy efforts. Awarded to four recipients by MDA’s Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) Program, the grants total more than $500,000. One Bioenergy/Biochemical Pilot Project Grant was awarded, providing funding to advance bioenergy and biochemical production technology to a commercial scale. Three Biofuel Blending Infrastructure Grants were awarded to expand the use of blending infrastructure equipment in Minnesota.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 27, 2019, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a rule requiring the gradual transition of fixed-route airport shuttles into 100 percent zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) by 2035. Applied to public and private shuttles that serve the state’s 13 largest airports, including rental car agencies, hotels, and parking facilities, the regulation was approved with an expectation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 500,000 metric tons. According to CARB, the regulation will also benefit shuttle fleet owners through an estimated $30 million in reduced fuel and maintenance costs. Currently, six airports and private businesses serving nine airports already have zero-emission shuttles operating in the state. This new rule presents “a great opportunity for showcasing this process,” stated CARB Executive Officer, Richard Corey. CARB states that airport shuttles are well-suited to zero-emission technology because they operate on short, fixed routes up to 200 miles per day with low average speeds in a stop/go pattern. When operating in this manner, ZEVs are advantageous from an energy and fuel efficiency perspective. The rule will require annual reporting of vehicles to CARB in 2022, and end in 2035 with full compliance of ZEV airport shuttles.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 28, 2019, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) will host the first public workshop on 1,4-Dioxane in Personal Care and Cleaning Products. 1,4-Dioxane, a solvent and stabilizer for chlorinated solvents, which is produced from both petroleum sources and from biobased ethylene oxide, has been identified by DTSC as a likely human carcinogen and an emerging contaminant found in beauty, personal care, hygiene, and cleaning products. DTSC is requesting additional information from stakeholders about potential adverse impacts from 1,4-dioxane in consumer products; its presence in personal care and cleaning products; and the feasibility of removing it from these products. To view the background document and submit comments, please visit DTSC’s CalSAFER portal. The comment period closes on August 21, 2019.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 15, 2019, the California Energy Commission (CEC) approved approximately $11 million for clean energy demonstration projects that include biofuels, renewable gas, and microgrids. Funded by CEC’s Alternative and Renewable Fuels and Vehicle Technology Program, in support of clean transportation innovation, $2 million from the total funds have been approved for technology and investment solutions in hopes of demonstrating cost-effective and more sustainable processes for creating biomethane for waste hauling trucks. Funding was also awarded in support of renewable gas production using wood waste from trees killed by beetle infestation and drought, as well as in support of the natural gas sector. Microgrids at schools and residential areas in the City of Lancaster are also being supported by a $5 million grant.  The project’s distributed energy resources will be integrated and managed by a virtual power plant that optimizes cost savings, grid resilience, and revenue generation. Further details can be found in CEC’s business meeting agenda.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is offering an opportunity for funding to advance a bioenergy or biochemical production technology toward commercial scale through the construction and operation of a pilot plant. To be eligible for the AGRI Bioenergy/Biochemical Pilot Project Grant, applicants must be a Minnesota-based company, learning institution, local government unit, Native American Tribal community, or individual (including for-profit businesses and colleges/universities). Eligible grant projects will be for the development of innovative bioenergy or biochemical production technology ideas that have advanced beyond the proof of concept and are at the scaling up to pilot-plant stage. Up to $150,000 will be awarded and must be used for:  (1) wages, software, or anything else necessary to perform the tasks of the grant project’s work plan; and (2) equipment needed for the project implementation. Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. (CDT) on April 26, 2019.  For further details, see the Request for Proposals.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture has announced the AGRI Biofuel Blending Infrastructure Grant to provide funding for biofuel blending infrastructure equipment. In hopes of promoting economic growth and environmentally friendly practices in Minnesota’s biofuels industries, the Grant aims to develop new or enhanced markets that improve blending outcomes, including but not limited to increasing sales and greater access to fuels. The Grant is open to Minnesota-based organizations that are biofuel producers, blending and supplying fuel businesses, and petroleum fuel blenders/distributions. Funds can be used for equipment purchase and its installation or associated costs. The project eligibility requires that the equipment continues to operate until the grant contract expires, the equipment be installed in Minnesota, and that it is compatible with the biofuel-petroleum blends. The amount available ($650,000 in 2019) allows for various grants to be given, and cannot exceed $199,000 of grants per applicant. Applications are due no later than 4:00 p.m. (CST) on Friday, April 12, 2019. For the full request for the proposal, click here.


 
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