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.

On March 2, 2017, Congressmen Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA) reintroduced legislation to expand the current Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver to include E15 motor vehicle fuel.  The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act aims to foster the development of a robust energy marketplace by offering the same regulatory relief that has been extended to E10.  Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to control the volatility of gasoline between June 1 and September 15 to limit vehicle emissions.  Congress permitted a RVP waiver for E10 due to its reduced emissions.  EPA, however, has continuously refused to extend the waiver to E15 despite its lower volatility compared to E10.  The bipartisan legislation would remove the restriction on the sale of E15 during the summer months and allow the fuel to be sold year-round.

Tags: RVP, Biofuel, EPA, CAA

 

On March 2, 2017, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) reintroduced the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Reform Act, which aims to guide the debate and reform of the ethanol mandate.  According to Goodlatte, the RFS program failed to lower prices at the pump and resulted in unintended and profound effects on consumers, energy producers, livestock producers, retailers, and the environment.  The RFS Reform Act, which had 42 bipartisan cosponsors, would eliminate corn-based ethanol requirements, place a ten percent cap on the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline, require EPA to set cellulosic biofuels targets at levels produced by the industry, and decrease the total volume of renewable fuel content in gasoline sold or introduced into commerce from 2017 through 2022.


 

On March 7, 2017, the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition sent a letter to President Trump requesting the Administration’s support for changes to various federal policies to strengthen biofuels production and expand markets for ethanol and other biofuels.  The letter, which was signed by Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, specifically highlights the need for the Trump Administration to change the fuel volatility limitations placed on E15, to update corn ethanol’s lifecycle carbon emissions profile to reflect advances in ethanol production technology, and to update the 2014 motor vehicle emission simulator model to prohibit spurious comparisons of high- and low-ethanol emissions factors.  The governors commended Trump on his support of the biofuels industry over the past year and stated that expanding biofuels production is one of the best ways to meet the nation’s energy needs.


 

On March 9, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that its My Renewable Diesel helped reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 6.7 million tons in 2016.  The reduction of carbon emissions from MY Renewable Diesel is equivalent to the removal of 2.4 million passenger cars from the road for one full year.  The low-carbon diesel, which is refined from renewable raw materials, is suitable for all diesel-powered passenger cars and heavy transport vehicles, including buses, garbage trucks, and emergency vehicles, without the need for vehicle-related investments or modifications.  Neste aims to increase the total annual GHG emission reduction volume to seven million tons in 2017


 
■  Euractiv, “Parliament Committee Says Palm Oil Biofuels Usage Should End by 2020
 
■   Bellona, Opportunities and Risks of Seaweed Biofuels in Aviation
 
■  Pacific Business News, Hawaii’s Largest Oil Refinery Owner in Talks with Biofuel Developers
 
■  Chemical & Engineering News, “Nestlé, Danone Look to Renewable Bottles

 

On February 22, 2016, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) published the results of a study on the impact of the ethanol industry on the U.S. economy.  The study, which was commissioned by ABF Economics, found that the U.S. ethanol industry contributed over $42 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and supported 340,000 jobs in 2016.  Additionally, the report states that the ethanol industry provided significant contributions in terms of displacing imported crude oil and petroleum products, and generating tax revenue. 

According to the report, the U.S. produced 15.2 billion gallons of ethanol in 2016, which resulted in:

■  Nearly $14.5 billion to the U.S. economy from manufacturing;
 
■   More than $22.5 billion in income for American households;
 
■  An estimated $4.9 billion in federal tax revenue and $3.6 billion in revenue to state and local governments; and
 
■  The displacement of 510 million barrels of imported oil.

 
■  Fuels America, “America’s Biofuel Advocates Reject Effort to Derail Renewable Fuel Standard
 
■   The Hill, “House GOP to Prioritize Ethanol, Pipeline Legislation
 
Premier Jay Wetherill, “State Government to Support Legalisation of Industrial Hemp
 
Oil Price, Biofuels May be the Future of the Aviation Industry
 
Princeton University, Schmidt Fund Awards Go to Projects with Transformative Potential
 
Phys.org, “Biofuel Produced by Microalgae
 
■  VietNamNet, “Challenges in Switch to E5 Biofuel

 
On February 21, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the launch of its Chemical Catalysis for Bioenergy Consortium (ChemCatBio), a research and development consortium focused on overcoming catalysis challenges for biomass conversion processes.  The consortium, which consists of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and five other DOE national laboratories, aims to accelerate the development of catalysts and related technologies to bring new catalytic materials to commercial bioenergy applications at least two times faster and at half the cost.  The unique properties of biomass, such as high oxygen content, high moisture content, and high acidity, make developing catalysts for bioenergy applications a challenge.  Through computational modeling, and materials synthesis and characterization capabilities, researchers involved with the consortium have already designed new multi-functional catalysts that enable carbon-efficient conversion and reduce costs by more than $0.5/gallon.

 

On February 22, 2017, the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy announced seven recipients of $5.9 million in funding to develop novel ways to use carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from coal-fired power plants.  The projects will focus on converting captured CO2 to useable products.  Recipients of the funding include:
 

■  The University of Kentucky Research Foundation will receive nearly $1 million to convert CO2 to bioplastics using microalgae.  In addition to developing a strategy to maximize value from the algae biomass, researchers will aim to decrease the cost of algae cultivation;
 
■  Researchers at the University of Delaware will receive $800,000 to develop a two-stage electrolyzer process for the conversion of CO2 to alcohols, such as ethanol and propanol;
 
■  The Gas Technology Institute will receive nearly $799,997 to develop a Direct E-Beam Synthesis process to produce chemicals, such as acetic acid, methanol, and CO, from CO2, and an additional $799,807 to develop a novel catalytic reactor process to convert CO2 into methane for syngas production;
 
■  TDA Research, Inc. will receive nearly $799,985 to develop a sorbent-based, thermo-catalytic process to convert CO2 into syngas; and
 
■  Southern Research will receive $799,442 to develop a process to produce light olefins, such as ethylene and propylene, from coal-fired flue gas using novel nano-engineered catalysts.

 
■  Washington University in St. Louis, “WashU Engineer to Design Catalyst for Wasted Plant Material” 
 
■  U.S. Air Force, “Langley 1 of 4 Bases to Test Bio-Based Grease” 
 
■  Times of India, “Fuel from Water Hyacinth? IIT-Kharagpur Shows the Way” 
 
■  Economic Times, “US Biofuels Lobbying Group Courts Its Rival Oil Companies to Combat Electric Car Threat

 
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