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 June 28, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed S.3042 -- Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) with a vote of 86-11. This bill includes mandatory funding for Energy Title programs, including the Biomass Research and Development Initiative; the Biobased Markets Program; the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Product Manufacturing Assistance Program; the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels; the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP); and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). In addition to securing funding for a range of bioenergy programs, the legislation also expands the types of renewable chemical and biobased product technologies that are eligible for funding. The U.S. House of Representatives version of this bill, H.R. 2, was passed on June 21, 2018, and does not include mandatory funding for Energy Title programs. While this funding was not included in H.R. 2, a previous vote to repeal the Energy Title programs was defeated in the House on May 17, 2018, by a vote of 75-340, signaling strong bipartisan support of the programs. (See the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) Blog post “Bipartisan Support Keeps Energy Title Programs In Farm Bill.”) The differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill will be resolved in committee.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 27, 2018, representatives from 11 European companies and universities gathered in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, to kick-off the EU-funded Rewofuel project.  This three-year, €19.7 million (about $23 million) project will demonstrate and evaluate how to best use wood residues from the forest industry to produce biofuels, with a long-term goal of starting new biorefineries across Europe. Rewofuel is a collaborative project that is expected to run for three years, and is being worked on by SEKAB E-Technology, Peab Asphalt, Sky NRG, Global Bioenergies, Neste Engineering Solutions, Repsol, Ajinomoto, Eurolysine, IPSB, TechnipFMC, and Linz University.  Jean-Baptiste Barbaroux, Chief Corporate Officer at Global Bioenergies, said of the project, “By combining technologies and know-how from the leading biofuels actors across Europe, the project Rewofuel will be able to demonstrate the increasingly important role of using forest materials in the European renewable energy transition. We look forward to contributing directly to the European climate and energy targets.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 26, 2018, Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), signed a proposed rule that includes 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel, as well as 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVO) for biomass-based diesel.
 




These blend levels increase requirements from 2018 but are still lower than the statutory levels set by Congress under the RFS. The levels, along with the fact that the proposed rule does not address the reduction in price that Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) have suffered as a result of EPA’s increased use of small refiner hardship waivers, have resulted in criticism of the rule by biofuel groups. Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s (BIO) Industrial & Environmental Section released a statement regarding the proposed rule, stating:
 
We welcome EPA’s decision to raise the advanced and cellulosic biofuel volumes in its proposal, which will help propel the industry forward in 2019. However, the advanced biofuels industry is still suffering the effects of the Agency’s decision to arbitrarily limit growth for low carbon biofuels in 2018, by setting a backward looking RFS requirement. The 2019 volumes should be higher, to correct from last year and also spur growth for the coming year.

EPA’s decision to forgo reallocation of gallons displaced from small refinery waivers at the behest of the petroleum industry is disappointing. In order to ensure a favorable and supportive investment climate for advanced and cellulosic biofuel producers, EPA must reallocate the gallons from the small refinery waivers already issued and into the future.

A comment period will start following publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register and comments will be due by August 17, 2018. Comments can be filed online at www.regulations.gov under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2018-0167. EPA plans to schedule a public hearing on the proposed rule.

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 4, 2018, several biofuel and agricultural groups, including the Renewable Fuels Association, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), and the National Biodiesel Board, among others, petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) obligations.  The ACE announcement states that the petition asks EPA to “change its regulations to account for lost volumes of renewable fuel resulting from the unprecedented number of retroactive small refinery exemptions from [RFS] obligations recently granted by EPA.”  The petition states that Section 211(o)(2)(a)(i) of the Clean Air Act “requires EPA to ensure that the annual required volumes of renewable fuel are introduced into the nation’s transportation fuel supply,” and that EPA’s “suddenly reversing its prior policy and granting retroactive exemptions to so many small refineries without adjusting its Annual Standard Equations to account for the resulting lost volumes,” means that EPA is “failing to meet its statutory obligation to ‘ensure’ that transportation fuels in the United States contain the applicable volumes of renewable fuel.”  The petition requests EPA to (1) convene a proceeding to reconsider the annual standard equations in 40 C.F.R. § 80.1405(c); and (2) convene a proceeding to reconsider its final action entitled “Periodic Reviews for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program” (82 Fed. Reg. 58364 (Dec. 12, 2017)).

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 8, 2018, petitioners in the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) case Coffeyville Resources Refining, et al. v. EPA filed their final briefs in the case challenging EPA’s final rule that established:  (1) the annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel (BBD), advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel that apply to all motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported in the year 2017; and (2) the applicable volume of BBD for 2018.  81 Fed. Reg. 89746 (Dec. 12, 2016).  Final briefs were filed by petitioners Coffeyville Resources Refining & Marketing, LLC, et al. and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).  The lengthy briefs reiterate the petitioners’ arguments that EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in relying on incomplete and flawed information and methodology when setting the cellulosic biofuel requirements and other 2017 obligations, and that EPA violated 42 U.S.C. § 7545(o)(2)(B)(ii) when it set the 2018 BBD volume based on factors that are not among those Congress instructed the Agency to consider, including the 2018 advanced-biofuel volume.  Respondent EPA and intervenors for EPA also filed final briefs.  EPA argued that its use of the cellulosic waiver was reasonable and reasonably used and applied; the D.C. Circuit has previously upheld its cellulosic biofuel projection methodology; and it properly assessed and set the BBD volumes for 2018.  Oral argument in this case has not yet been scheduled.  All of the briefs are available on Inside EPA’s website (subscription required).

Tags: Biofuel, RFS

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 5, 2018, Brazil’s National Energy Policy Council (CNPE) set a target to reduce fuel emissions ten percent by 2028. These targets are part of the RenovaBio law, passed in December 2017, that aims to meet Brazil’s commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement by increasing the share of ethanol and biodiesel in Brazil’s fuel mix and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Andre Rocha, president of the National Sugarcane/Ethanol Forum, a group of 16 state sugar/ethanol producers associations, told Bloomberg Environment (subscription required) that the ten percent target “is not very ambitious, but is sufficient to encourage biofuel producers’ to expand output.”
 
The passage of RenovaBio will set up a carbon credit market for biofuel producers to trade carbon dioxide emissions credits with fuel distributors. Fuel distributors must either purchase credits or additional biofuels to meet annual emissions reductions targets. This carbon credit market will go into effect in 2020, with the carbon credits expected to result in $341 billion in biofuel investments and 8.3 billion additional gallons of ethanol and biodiesel consumption by 2028. On June 11, 2018, The Wilson Center hosted a meeting with a delegation from Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy to discuss the implementation of RenovaBio. The slides from the presentation are available online.


 

 
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