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.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On September 27, 2018, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced its approval of amendments to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The LCFS has been in place since 2011, in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Under the original program, the standard required a ten percent reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels in California by 2020. In 2017 only, the LCFS has successfully led to the replacement of billions of gallons of petroleum and natural gas with renewable and sustainable transportation fuels. Despite its success, however, the approved amendments to the LCFS aim to make the program more flexible and comprehensive. Under the new amendments, the LCFS sets new requirements to the reduction in carbon intensity and added credits for alternative aviation fuels. The LCFS now requires a 20 percent reduction in carbon intensity by 2030, parallel to California’s overall 2030 target in climate change reduction. Additional changes also include the restructuration of rebate programs for utility vehicles into one single pool and a new protocol for carbon capture and storage. For further details on the new LCFS, click here.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On May 1, 2018, a new biodiesel requirement went into effect in Minnesota, requiring all diesel fuel sold in the state to contain five percent biodiesel from October to March and 20 percent biodiesel from April to September. This is the last stage of the Biodiesel Content Mandate that has been steadily increasing the minimum content requirement of biodiesel in diesel sold in Minnesota since September 29, 2005, when a two percent blend requirement was introduced. Since then the requirement has increased to five percent on May 1, 2009, and stayed at five percent for the winter months while the summer requirement increased to ten percent on July 1, 2014, and reached the final 20 percent requirement for the summer months this May. Minnesota originally planned to transition to a ten percent biodiesel blend on May 1, 2012, but concerns about inadequate blending infrastructure delayed implementation. Minnesota’s government is confident that the state is prepared to switch to a 20 percent biodiesel blend, with sufficient fuel and feedstock supply and adequate blending infrastructure. Tom Slunecka, CEO of the Minnesota Soybean Growers, states consumers benefit the most from the B20 mandate, “They’re getting better, cleaner air because biodiesel is in our fuel tanks. They’re getting the benefit of an industry that was born here in Minnesota. It’s produced here, it’s consumed here. So all the taxes stay right here.”
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On December 28, 2017, New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides announced that the New York City Council unanimously passed a bill on the use of alternative fuels and alternative fuel technologies in the city ferry fleet (INT. 54). The legislation would require a two-year study on the feasibility of using alternative fuel, including biodiesel, and fuel technologies, including hybrid electric or fuel-cell electric, in city ferries. The study would include consideration of availability, storage, ferry compatibility, possible barriers, regulatory requirements, and other issues related to renewable fuels. Based on the findings, the city would determine whether it is feasible and practical to implement the use of renewable fuels. The bill, which Council Member Constantinides introduced to the Council in 2014, is awaiting Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature.
By Kathleen M. Roberts
On October 10, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register its final rule establishing exemptions for a tolerance limit to use tall oil fatty acids (TOFA) as an inert ingredient “[i]n pesticide formulations applied to growing crops and raw agricultural commodities after harvest; in pesticides applied in/on animals, and in antimicrobial formulations for food contact surfaces.” Pursuant to Section 408(c)(2)(A)(i) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), EPA has the authority to establish exemptions from the requirement of a tolerance only when it can be demonstrated clearly that the risks from aggregate exposure to the pesticide residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures, particularly to infants and children, for which there is reliable information, will pose no appreciable risks to human health. In analyzing the risk, EPA considers both the toxicity of the inert ingredient and the reasonably foreseeable circumstances for exposure to the substance. Following its evaluation and consideration of the validity, completeness, and reliability of available toxicity data, EPA determined that sufficient data were available to conclude that TOFA do not have a toxic mechanism and will not pose a risk to the U.S. population.
EPA established the final rulemaking following a petition by Spring Trading Company on behalf of Ingevity Corporation requesting that 40 C.F.R. Sections 180.910, 180.930, and 180.940(a) be amended to establish the exemptions. The regulation is effective immediately and eliminates the need to establish maximum permissible levels for residues of TOFA that are consistent with the conditions of these exemptions. Objections and requests for hearings regarding the regulation are due by December 11, 2017.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On October 15, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed California Senate Bill (S.B.) 258, the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017, which would require manufacturers of cleaning products to disclose certain chemical ingredients on the product label and on the manufacturer’s website. The final version of S.B. 258 was passed by the California Senate on September 13, 2017, by a vote of 27 to 13. The California Assembly passed the bill by a vote of 55 to 15, with nine votes not recorded, on September 12, 2017. The online disclosure requirements would apply to a designated product sold in California on or after January 1, 2020, and the product label disclosure requirements would apply to a designated product sold in California on or after January 1, 2021. The bill was co-sponsored by several non-governmental organizations as well as a few manufacturers of cleaning products including Honest Company, Seventh Generation, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, RB - Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever, Eco Lab WD-40, fragrance maker Givaudan, and the Consumer Specialty Products Association. More information on S.B. 258 is available in our memorandum “California Bill Would Require Disclosure of Cleaning Product Ingredients.”
The State of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Division of Materials Management will soon release formally a similar initiative, the Household Cleaning Product Information Disclosure Program. This program will require manufacturers of domestic and commercial cleaning products distributed, sold, or offered for sale in New York State to furnish information regarding such products in a certification form prescribed by the Commissioner, and is expected to require disclosure of many more chemicals than S.B. 258. The period for comments on the draft certification form and guidance document related to the program ended on July 14, 2017.
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) will soon be releasing a detailed memorandum on both developments to be available on our regulatory developments webpage.
By Kathleen M. Roberts
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) announced that on September 13, 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that introduces bioheating fuel tax credits and bioheating fuel tax requirements to three New York counties. The bill (S5422A) requires all home heating oil sold for use in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties on or after July 1, 2018, to contain at least five percent biodiesel (B5). Assemblyman Steve Englebright and Senator Phil Boyle sponsored the bill, which received broad support from a range of industry and environmental advocates. New York City, the largest municipal consumer of heating oil in the country, instituted a citywide two percent biodiesel requirement in 2012, which increases to five percent on October 1, 2017. With the new legislation, the entire New York City Metropolitan Area, representing approximately 70 percent of the state’s heating oil market, will have a five percent biodiesel blending requirement. NBB commended Governor Cuomo for signing the bill, stating that it will provide cleaner air for more New Yorkers and support local jobs in the clean energy sector.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On August 3, 2017, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton announced that the state will implement a new biodiesel standard in May 2018 that will increase the biodiesel blend mandate from 10 percent (B10) to 20 percent (B20) between April and September each year. Currently under the state’s biodiesel program, diesel fuel sold in Minnesota must contain at least 10 percent biodiesel during the summer months, with the blend lowering to 5 percent from October to March. While the new mandate doubles the blend requirement during the summer months, the mandate will revert back to 5 percent over the winter months unless state officials and technical experts determine that accepted federal standards deem certain higher blends as suitable for year-round use in Minnesota.
Since a large portion of Minnesota’s biodiesel is made from homegrown soybeans, the new standard is expected to add an average of 63 cents to the market price of a bushel of soybeans for Minnesota farmers, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 1 million tons next year. Minnesota’s biodiesel industry is estimated to contribute more than $1.7 billion annually to the economy, with the state’s three biodiesel plants producing a combined 74 million gallons of biodiesel annually.