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 June 4, 2020, the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA) announced the creation of the Biofuel Infrastructure Program (BIP). Designed to increase the availability of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel in Missouri, BIP partners with private entities to support biofuel producers in applying for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Investment Program (HBIIP) funding. The MASBDA Board of Directors has allocated up to $2 million statewide in grant funds. The maximum grant amount is $200,000 for each business entity and can be used to fulfill up to 25 percent of the cash match obligation required for HBIIP. Eligible project costs include but are not limited to:

  • Retrofitting of existing, or purchase and installation of new, fuel dispensers (gas and/or diesel pumps) and attached equipment, underground storage tank system components, and other infrastructure required at a location to ensure the environmentally safe availability of fuel containing ethanol blends greater than 10 percent or fuel containing biodiesel blends greater than 5 percent;
     
  • Construction, retrofitting, replacement, and improvements;
     
  • Fees for construction permits and licenses; and
     
  • Professional service fees for qualified consultants, contractors, installers, and other third-party services.

The application deadline for these grants is July 1, 2020. A non-refundable fee of $150 must accompany applications up to $25,000, and a fee of $300 for applications of $25,000 and over. For funded grants, an administrative fee of 10 percent of the grant amount will be assessed when the contract is executed. Further information can be accessed here, and the application here.

MASBDA Executive Director, Jill Wood, expressed enthusiasm for the newly created BIP, stating that her team at MASBDA “is excited to stand in the financial gap that may help some agribusinesses from applying these federal funds.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is offering the first Renewable Chemicals Production (RCP) Tax Credit in the United States. What does this mean? It means that the program provides an opportunity for industry stakeholders to advance Iowa’s economy through a focus on biomass as a feedstock for the production of renewable chemicals. As an attempt to incentivize the production of 30 high-value chemicals derived from biomass feedstocks, IEDA developed the RCP Tax Credit program to “capitalize on its resources and infrastructure and to capture the renewable chemical manufacturing industry.” IEDA is offering tax credit of $0.05 per pound of renewable chemical produced. Start-ups can receive up to $1 million in credit, and established businesses can earn up to $500,000. Applications are open until March 15, 2020, for chemicals produced in 2019.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 10, 2020, the Governor of Wyoming, Mark Gordon, delivered his 2020 State of the State Address, which included a request to lawmakers of a $25 million investment to establish the Energy Commercialization Program. The program is designed to provide a coordinated approach to support research on technologies that advance zero or net-negative carbon uses for coal and other fossil fuels. Gordon stated: “Wyoming will always advocate for our industries, whether it be to protect against unconstitutional restraint of trade, or in their endeavors to deliver cleaner, more dependable, more affordable, and safer energy to our nation.” While supporting coal mines and preventing them from closing, Gordon seeks to build a carbon capture and sequestration facility in Wyoming. Criticizing states such as California, Oregon, and Washington, Gordon went as far as stating that Wyoming will require true carbon dioxide sequestration and “not just some artificial notion that wind and solar can cure climate change all by themselves.” The Wyoming Governor also urged lawmakers to support legislation that would require all new electric generation capacity in the state to be reliable, consistent, and reasonably net carbon negative.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) will hold a public meeting on February 24, 2020, at 1 p.m. (EST) in Albany, New York, “to discuss amendments to the household cleansing product rules that are being considered for adoption.” According to NYSDEC, amendments include specifying what information must be reported about covered products and their ingredients, how information should be shared with NYSDEC for the public record, the type of studies that must be reported, and how confidential business information (CBI) should be handled. NYSDEC states that during the meeting, it “is looking for input on disclosure of nonfunctional ingredients, issues around confidential information, how to disclose when a product’s formulation temporarily changes, and any other regulatory concerns.” Registration is required to attend the meeting. NYSDEC notes that it “will hold a formal public comment period at a later date once it officially proposes the regulations.”

As reported in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) September 4, 2019, blog item, on August 27, 2019, the State of New York Supreme Court invalidated the Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program (Disclosure Program). Information related to NYSDEC’s prior delay of its enforcement of its Disclosure Program is available here, and general information regarding the Program and its extensive requirements for manufacturers of certain consumer cleaning products to disclose information regarding the ingredients in those products is available here. The court found that the Disclosure Program was established in violation of the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA) and the New York State Constitution. In making this finding, the court held that the Program was a “rule” as argued by Petitioners and not “guidance” for which adherence to SAPA was not required, as argued by NYSDEC. A more detailed analysis and commentary are available in our August 30, 2019, memorandum, “NY Department of Environmental Conservation Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program Ruled ‘Null and Void.’


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 3, 2019, Governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, signed an Executive Order that requires all new contracts for the purchase of state vehicles with diesel engines to have written support from the manufacturer to use B20 biodiesel (a mix of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum-based diesel) or more. The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) started using biodiesel blends in 1994. B20 is used for most of the year already, in most equipment with a diesel engine, including motor graders and snowplows, among others. Largely contributing to Iowa’s job market and accounting for $568 million of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), Iowa’s biodiesel plants increased their biodiesel production by 20 percent by the end of 2018. Governor Reynolds stated: “Ethanol and biodiesel remain essential to the health of the agricultural economy, sustainable environmental commitments and employ thousands of Iowans. I am proud to stand alongside Iowa Farm Bureau and key stakeholders in the renewable fuels industry to secure the continued demand for biofuels.”

Tags: Iowa, Biofuel, B20, DOT

 

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.


 
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