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 April 30, 2019, 15 U.S. Senators signed and submitted a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, urging him to protect U.S. consumers and account for the ethanol blend wall when setting annual target volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) requirements. According to the letter, a decrease in consumer demand for gasoline has occurred since the RFS Program was passed into law. Instead of the original 170 billion gallons projected, now, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects a gasoline demand for 2020 to be closer to 142 billion gallons and to decrease to 137 billion gallons by 2022. Therefore, in the letter, the Senators request that EPA acknowledge the “market reality when resetting the statutory targets such that the contribution of conventional biofuel is set below an implied 10 percent level for 2020.” They also emphasize that, should EPA fail to reset the volume below the blend wall, EPA would be violating the Congressional intent set forth under RFS, harming both consumers and refiners

Tags: RFS, Biofuel, EPA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 3, 2019, DOE announced over $79 million in funding for bioenergy R&D, which includes biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. Under Secretary of Energy, Mark W. Menezes, stated that the FOA will contribute to ensure the nation’s competitive advantage in the bioeconomy and offer more energy choices. The FOA’s objectives are to reduce the price of drop-in biofuels, lower the cost of biopower, and enable high-value products from waste or biomass resources. The FOA includes ten topic areas:

  • Cultivation Intensification Processes for Algae
     
  • Biomass Component Variability and Feedstock Conversion Interface
     
  • Efficient Wood Heaters
     
  • Systems Research of Hydrocarbon Biofuel Technologies
     
  • Optimization of Biomass-Derived Jet Fuel Blends
     
  • Renewable Energy from Urban and Suburban Wastes
     
  • Advanced Bioprocessing and Agile BioFoundry
     
  • Plastics in the Circular Carbon Economy
     
  • Rethinking Anaerobic Digestion
     
  • Reducing Water, Energy, and Emissions in Bioenergy
For further details, the full FOA can be found on the EERE Exchange website.
Tags: DOE, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 29, 2019, the National Chicken Council submitted a letter to EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality outlining the potentially negative impact of the changes to the biofuels policy on the poultry industry. In his letter to EPA, Mike Brown, President of the National Chicken Council, reported concern with EPA’s proposal on year-round ethanol-15 (E15) use under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) Program. The National Chicken Council believes that EPA has failed to consider the impact of such volume waivers on the boiler industry, and for poultry and livestock feeders generally. Brown assures EPA that a year-round E15 use waiver “will result in a rapid expansion of corn use under the RFS adding the potential for price and supply volatility in the corn market.” Instead of the aforementioned proposed modifications, the National Chicken Council is suggesting that EPA consider a predictable, transparent off-ramp based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stocks-to-use-ratio in the June World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. Partial waivers would then be structured for the remainder of the year. The structure of the partial waivers is further detailed in the letter.

Tags: E15, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In April 2019, Navius Research Inc. (Navius Research) published a report titled “Biofuels in Canada 2019: Tracking biofuel consumption, feedstocks and avoided greenhouse gas emissions.” Using public data, the report analyzes the volume of transportation biofuels consumed in each Canadian province and estimates the impact of this consumption on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and transportation energy costs. An increase in both ethanol and renewable fuel consumption is noted in the report, which has led to reduced fuel expenditures in Canada by 0.42 percent from 2010 through 2017. This decreased expenditure is relative to a counterfactual scenario without biofuel consumption. Relative to this counterfactual scenario, differences in fuel energy density and fuel costs, Canada has ended up paying more taxes due to biofuel blending and consumption.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 17, 2019, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, spoke at a press conference alongside Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig, on how the approval of small-refinery exemptions (SRE) for the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blend levels would undermine RFS in an irreversible way.  IRFA’s Executive Director, Monte Shaw, pointed out that under current conditions all a refinery needs to show significant disproportionate economic harm to be granted an SRE is to purchase Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN).  RINs, also known as compliance credits, can be purchased for as little as eight cents, which undermines RFS and breaks President Trump’s promise to protect the 15-billion-gallon RFS.  Shaw concludes:  “[t]he bottom line is this:  If you grant SREs under these circumstances with eight-cent RINs, then what EPA is really saying is that they will always grant SREs and the hope of a true 15-billion-gallon RFS is dead.”

Tags: IRFA, RFS, Biofuel

 

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 4, 2019, DOE EERE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the appearance of 23 journal articles from some of the nation’s leading biomass experts in the journal Frontiers in Energy Research. The collection of articles, titled Advancements in Biomass Feedstock Preprocessing: Conversion Ready Feedstocks, focuses on the many years of research and development into biomass preprocessing that has been largely supported by DOE EERE’s BETO. According to the announcement, researchers from Idaho National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory were part of more than 100 authors representing more than 30 research institutions, universities, and private companies who contributed to the special issue containing these 23 articles.


 
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