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 Kathleen M. Roberts

On April 25, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service published in the Federal Register a notice that it is requesting approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of a revision to a currently approved information collection for the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which provides funding to eligible advanced biofuel producers to support the production of biofuel products.  The Rural Business-Cooperative Service is specifically seeking comments on the following topics:

  • Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;
  • The accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.                          
Comments on this notice, which are due by June 26, 2017, will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 24, 2017, Bob Dineen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting that the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) rulemaking remain on schedule and maintain the conventional renewable fuel requirement at the statutory level of 15 billion gallons.  According to the letter, regulatory certainty and sufficient lead time for planning are required to allow regulated parties to adapt and comply with the RFS. 
 
The letter states that ethanol producers are set to produce a record supply of 16 billion gallons of conventional renewable fuel in 2017, which is well above the 15-billion-gallon conventional renewable fuel RVO, and refiners and blenders have increased the inclusion of ethanol in U.S. gasoline.  Additionally, data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) demonstrates that, on average, the ethanol content of gasoline consumed in the U.S. in 2016 was above the purported “blend wall.”  Dinneen urged Pruitt to ensure a timely RVO rulemaking process to allow the evolution of the marketplace to continue.

Tags: RFA, EPA, RVO, Biofuels

 

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On April 13, 2017, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) released a statement regarding the passage of a bill, HSB 187, by the Iowa House Appropriations Committee that would cut the value of the Iowa biofuels tax credits and complicate the mechanism for receiving the credit.  According to the bill, the value of the tax credits would be determined based on annual sales, and the amount of the credits would be capped on an annual, statewide basis.  The purpose of the biofuels tax credits was to incentivize consumers to purchase higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel, such as E15, E85, and B11, by offering a tax credit to fuel retailers.  IRFA states, however, that the amendments to HSB 187 undercut the entire purpose of the tax credits since fuel retailers cannot pass the price reduction to the consumer if they do not know what the credit is at the time the fuel is sold.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 12, 2017, the nova-Institute announced the publication of its commentary on the European Commission’s proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED).  The proposal, which is referred to as RED II, aims to raise renewable energy usage in Europe to 27 percent by 2030 and to require fuel suppliers to include a minimum share of advanced biofuels in their offering, which will increase steadily between 2021 and 2030.  In its commentary, the nova-Institute analyzed how the revisions presented in RED II would impact the biobased materials sector.  According to the report, the inclusion of CO2-biobased fuels in RED II indicates that the available support will be spread across more forms of energy supply than before, which may improve competition and access to biomass.  The report also states that the cap on biofuels produced from food or feed crops will likely allow an increase of biomass demand by biobased materials, which can be expected to contribute to an upswing of the biobased materials sector.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 13, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced that it was formally initiating antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations of biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia.  The decision follows a petition filed by the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition, as reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post “National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition Files Antidumping, Countervailing Duty Petition.”  The National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel producers also provided testimony to the International Trade Commission (ITC) on April 13, 2017, explaining that Argentine and Indonesian companies are violating trade laws by flooding the U.S. market with dumped and subsidized biodiesel, and how those imports are injuring American manufacturers and workers. 
 
The investigation covers biodiesel in pure form, mixtures containing at least 99 percent biodiesel by volume, and the biodiesel component of mixtures containing less than 99 percent biodiesel.  ITC will issue its preliminary injury determinations by May 8, 2017.  If ITC determines that imports of biodiesel from Argentina and/or Indonesia materially injure or threaten material injury to the domestic industry, the investigation will continue and DOC will announce its preliminary CVD and AD determinations in the summer of 2017.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 3, 2017, the European Environment Agency (EEA) announced the publication of the report titled “Renewable Energy in Europe 2017:  Recent Growth and Knock-On Effects,” which demonstrates that renewables have been a major contributor to the energy transition in Europe.  An analysis of the compound annual growth rate demonstrated that the use of biofuels in transport grew fastest between 2005 and 2014 at 18 percent per year.  Renewables provided six percent of the energy used for the European Union’s (EU) transportation sector in 2014, with biofuels accounting for nearly 90 percent of renewable energy.  According to the report, a plateau in first-generation biofuel capacity and delays in overcoming technical and financial obstacles related to second-generation biofuel technologies resulted in fewer investments in biofuels in 2015, compared to 2005.  The report also stated that electricity from solid biomass increased seven percent from 2005 to 2014, but the implementation of sustainability criteria could influence future growth in solid biomass fuel.  The full report is available on the EEA website.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 4, 2017, Members of the European Parliament (MEP) approved a resolution calling on the European Commission (EC) to phase out the use of palm oil as a component of biofuels and advocating for a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the European Union (EU).  The resolution states that biofuels production accounts for 46 percent of the palm oil imported by the EU and requires about one million hectares of tropical soils.  To limit the deforestation and habitat degradation that comes from unsustainable palm oil production, the EU aims to phase out the use of vegetable oils that drive deforestation as a component of biofuels by 2020.  Additionally, the resolution encourages the use of a single certification scheme with specific sustainability criteria for palm oil to ensure that only sustainably produced palm oil and products enter the EU market.  MEP also called on EC to improve the traceability of imported palm oil. 
 
Following the approval of the resolution, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced an update to the Crude Palm Oil Dashboard on its website.  The dashboard provides information on Neste’s crude palm oil suppliers across the supply chain in an effort to improve supply chain transparency.  Neste states that all of its crude palm oil has been fully traceable to the plantation level since 2007 and has been 100 percent certified since 2013.


 
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