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 November 13, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the submission for review of an information collection request (ICR) on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  83 Fed. Reg. 56319.  The Federal Register notice states that purpose of this submission is to obtain OMB approval of an ICR that consolidates some existing collections.  By consolidating the existing collections and recordkeeping updates, EPA is aiming to create a new, consistent, and easily understandable format to report burden and cost estimates related to the RFS program.  Additionally, the ICR requests approval of updates to the recordkeeping and reporting burden along with cost estimated in December 2017.  EPA requested comments on this ICR for a 60-day period.  The November 13, 2018, notice extends the request for public comments by an additional 30 days.  Additional comments may be submitted on or before December 13, 2018.  The estimated burden approximates 566,665 hours per year, with a total estimated cost of $57,457,330 per year.  The cost estimate includes $0 of annualized capital or operation and maintenance costs.

Tags: EPA, RFS, OMB, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 13, 2018, the European Parliament (EP) announced its approval of new targets for renewables and energy efficiency rates to be achieved by 2030.  According to the press release, “by 2030, energy efficiency in the [European Union (EU)] has to have improved by 32.5%, whereas the share of energy from renewables should be at least 32% of the EU’s gross final consumption.”  Highlighting the crucial role of second generation biofuels rather than first generation biofuels which lead to land use changes, the EP declared that the latter will no longer count towards the EU energy goals from 2030.  Starting in 2019, the plan is to phase out first generation biofuels gradually until it reaches zero.  By December 31, 2019, member states will be required to present a ten-year national energy and climate plan, which outlines the national measures that will be taken.

Tags: Biofuel, EU

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 31, 2018, the Canadian National Energy Board released its 2018 report on energy supply and demand projections to 2040: “Canada’s Energy Future 2018: An Energy Market Assessment.” Based on a set of assumptions about technology, energy, climate, human behaviors, and the structure of the economy, the assessment identifies five key findings as follows:

  1. Canada’s energy demand growth is slowing, while the sources to meet these demands are becoming less carbon intensive;
  2. With greater adoption of new energy technologies, Canadians use over 15 percent less total energy and 30 percent less fossil fuels by 2040;
  3. Energy use and economic growth continue to decouple;
  4. Canada’s energy mix continues to become more diverse, adding more renewables; and
  5. Canadian oil and natural gas production increases, with price and technology changes influencing production in the future.

The report predicts that energy generation from renewable sources will increase in 2040 to represent 12 percent of all electricity generation. It concludes, that given the higher demand in reducing carbon emissions and the increase in biofuel blending rates, the costs of renewables will likely drop.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 30, 2018, Earthjustice and the Clean Air Task Force submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a petition “to amend its ‘aggregate compliance’ approach to the definition of biomass under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) … to prevent the conversion of native grasslands.”  The petition was filed on behalf of 11 organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club, and urges EPA’s Administrator Andrew Wheeler to amend regulations related to land permissibility for renewable biomass production.  Under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act’s (EISA) RFS, land conversion for the production of renewable fuel sources is restricted to agricultural land cultivated prior to the enactment of the ruling that is nonforested or uncultivated.  Meant to ensure that growing renewable fuel sources would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, the petition claims that these requirements are not being implemented by EPA due to an aggregate compliance system for measuring land use.  Instead, green groups are requesting that EPA use an individualized compliance approach in evaluating biofuel producers to assure compliance with EISA’s land use restrictions.  The petition also requests that EPA require additional “proof that only EISA-compliant land is used to grow crops displaced by renewable biomass production.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In the beginning of October 2018, researchers from the University of California – Berkeley published a paper in Nature Nanotechnology that explains how a new bacterium can produce fuels through artificial photosynthesis upon being fed gold. The formerly undiscovered bacterium, Moorella thermoacetica, allows for the development of photosynthetic biohybrid systems (PBS), linking inorganic light with preassembled biosynthetic pathways. The addition of gold nanoclusters, AuNCs, is used to circumvent electron transfer for existing PBSs through its addition to M. thermoacetica, which is a non-photosynthetic bacterium. “Translocation of these AuNCs into the bacteria enables photosynthesis of acetic acid from CO2 […] realizing CO2 fixation continuously over several days,” which leads to an accelerated production of biofuels.

Tags: Nano, Biofuel

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 15, 2018, U.S. Representatives Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Danny Davis (D-IL) submitted a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing concern over President Trump’s issuance of waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Particularly worried about EPA’s recent actions to waive RFS blending requirements, the letter, signed by 19 members of Congress, urges EPA “to halt the issuance of additional RFS waivers and to reallocate waived gallons in the 2019 Renewable Volume Obligations.” According to the letter, the issuance of these waivers has led to higher gas prices and higher emission levels, particularly, in communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by air pollution. Given the largely negative impacts of these waivers, the letter also highlights the benefits and importance of biofuels in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and, consequently, improving public health outcomes. “The Trump administration’s decision to abandon RFS goals has already set back our progress by 5 years,” Representative Gallego expanded in a press release.

Tags: RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 12, 2018, the EC announced new requirements for labeling fuel. As of the aforementioned date, European Union (EU) Member States must use set fuel labels on newly produced vehicles, at vehicle dealerships, and at gas stations that dispense hydrogen, diesel, compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, petrol, and liquefied natural gas. Given the growing variety of fuels on the market, the EC’s new requirements address the greater need for transparency of information to consumers. The labels are to be put on the nozzles of gas filling pumps, on the pumps themselves, and in the vicinity of fuel filler caps on new cars, motorcycles, buses, and coaches, among other places.

Tags: EU, Biofuel

 
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