On March 13, 2017, the South Dakota Farmers Union announced that the National Farmers Union had passed a resolution calling for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to open the market to higher blends of ethanol during its annual meeting in San Diego. The resolution, which was brought forward by the South Dakota Farmers Union delegation, promotes the use of higher blended fuels, such as E30, as a way to expand the retail fuels infrastructure and support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
In addition to passing the resolution, the National Farmers Union filed legal comments regarding EPA’s overreach in its interpretation of the Clean Air Act (CAA), which limits ethanol content to 15 percent. Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union, called on EPA and all government regulators to reverse statements and policies that unfairly limit the amount of ethanol in fuel and stated that both the state and national organization continue to seek greater market access for higher blended fuels.
On February 9, 2017, Illinois State Senators Andy Manar and Chapin Rose introduced legislation aimed at growing Illinois’ biobased economy by providing incentives under the Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit Program Act. The program would provide credit against taxes for eligible Illinois businesses that produce renewable chemicals within the state using biomass feedstock and other renewable sources. The legislation defines a renewable chemical as a building block with a biobased content of at least 50 percent. According to the legislation, eligible businesses will be required to submit to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity an application for the tax credit that includes the amount of renewable chemical produced during the calendar year and any other information needed to verify eligibility as identified by the Department. The proposed tax credit will not exceed $1 million for businesses that have been in operation in Illinois for five years or less, and $500,000 for businesses that have been in operation longer than five years.
The New York State Clean Heating Fuel Tax Credit has been extended through 2020. The personal income tax credit, which was initially authorized in 2006, is provided to eligible taxpayers for biodiesel purchases used for residential space and water heating. For each percent of biodiesel blended with conventional home heating oil, a tax credit of $0.01/gallon is available up to a maximum of $0.20/gallon. A partial credit will be calculated for buildings with a shared oil storage tank for residential and non-residential space that is based on the percentage of residential square footage. A refund will be provided to taxpayers whose allowable credit exceeds their liability for that year.
On December 22, 2016, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced that the public comment period for the draft Alternatives Analysis (AA) Guide for the Safer Consumer Products (SCP) program has been extended to February 3, 2017. The guide, which was released on December 19, 2016, aims to help relevant stakeholders navigate all phases of the SCP AA process and provide useful approaches, methods, resources, tools and examples of how to fulfill SCP's regulatory requirements. The draft AA Guide is available through the Safer Consumer Products Information Management System (CalSAFER). The SCP program aims to reduce toxic chemicals in consumer products using a four step process that identifies specific products that contain potentially harmful chemicals and asks manufacturers to assess whether the chemical is necessary and whether a safer alternative can be used.
On September 28, 2016, the City of New York passed a bill, 47 to three, increasing the amount of biodiesel in the city’s heating oil. Heating oil in New York City currently contains two percent biodiesel, which will increase to five percent on October 1, 2017, ten percent in 2025, 15 percent in 2030, and 20 percent in 2034. The first increase from a two to five percent biodiesel blend is expected to reduce an equivalent amount of emissions, taking 45,000 cars off the road, with the final target of a 20 percent reduction of emissions equivalent to removing over 250,000 cars. This legislation, which is expected to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, is part of New York City’s target to reach an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions between 2005 and 2050.
On September 6, 2016, 61 members of the Florida House of Representatives issued a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to urge them to: (1) declare a public health emergency for the Zika virus; (2) grant Florida’s state and local governments access to Oxitec Ltd.’s (Oxitec) genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes that can suppress the local Aedes aegypti mosquito population; and (3) grant an Emergency Use Authorization under Section 564 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to make Oxitec’s GE mosquitos immediately available in any Florida area “where Zika is being transmitted or is likely to be transmitted.”
FDA completed and issued the final environmental review for a proposed field trial to determine whether the release of Oxitec’s GE mosquitoes (OX513A) will suppress the local Aedes aegypti mosquito population in the release area at Key Haven, Florida on August 5, 2016. FDA's final issuance of an Environmental Assessment (EA) and its Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) does not mean that Oxitec's GE mosquitoes are approved for commercial use, however, as Oxitec is still responsible for ensuring all other local, state, and federal requirements are met before conducting the proposed field trial, and, together with its local partner, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, determining whether and when to begin the proposed field trial in Key Haven, Florida.
More information on Oxitec’s GE mosquitos is available in the Oxitec Case Study section of a report authored by the legal experts, scientists, and policy specialists of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) and released through the Wilson Center's Synthetic Biology Project, "The DNA of the U.S. Regulatory System: Are We Getting It Right for Synthetic Biology?" (October 2015).
On July 6, 2016, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed SB 2652 Related to Taxation -- Locally Produced Renewable Energy. This bill establishes a five-year renewable fuels production tax credit. The tax credit will take effect in 2017 and will provide 20 cents per gallon of ethanol (or 76,000 British thermal units (Btu) of renewable fuel) with a cap of $3 million. The tax credit is open to companies producing at least 15 billion Btu of fuel from renewable feedstocks per year. Acceptable fuels include, but are not limited to, ethanol, hydrogen, biodiesel, biogas, renewable jet fuel, and other biofuels.
On June 24, 2016, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed Senate Bill 657 modifying provisions related to motor vehicles. Under this new law, liability insurance carried by gas stations will expand coverage to include the release of blended fuels from incompatible storage tanks. The inclusion of blended fuels under the required insurance policy will remove one more barrier towards increasing the number of blender pumps within the state. The bill was originally introduced on January 6, 2016, and will become effective on August 28, 2016.
On June 15, 2016, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced three new members of the Green Ribbon Science Panel (GRSP). The new members are Jack Linard, Ph.D., Personal Care Regulatory Affairs Team for Unilever North America; Elaine Cohen Hubal, Ph.D., Deputy National Program Director for EPA's Chemical Safety for Sustainability (CSS) Research Program; and Mark Nicas, Ph.D., MPH, CIH, Associate Adjunct Professor Emeritus for the University of California, Berkeley. The new members will work with existing panel members to advise DTSC on Safer Consumer Products (SCP) regulations implementation. GRSP will also provide input and advice on other discussion topics, including the Department's Alternative Analysis Guide, and the implementation of the 2015-2017 Priority Products Work Plan.
On May 24, 2016, Iowan Governor Terry Branstad signed Senate File 2309, an Act providing for tax credits and refunds relating to renewable fuels including their component biofuels and including effective date provisions. The bill extends a state biodiesel production tax credit providing 2 cents per gallon (cpg) on the first 25 million gallons of production per biodiesel plant. The bill also extends a credit for petroleum retailers of 4.5 cpg on blends of 5 percent biodiesel or more through the end of 2017, with the incentive changing to 3.5 cpg for 5-11 percent biodiesel blends and 5.5 cpg for biodiesel blends above 11 percent from 2018 to 2024. Without the extension, the bill was scheduled to sunset on December 31, 2017, but will now continue through December 31, 2024.