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 January 2, 2018, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) issued a Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN) report on Japan’s fuel ethanol policy.  According to the report, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) is seeking public comments on changes to its fuel ethanol policy.  The changes would establish a U.S. corn-based ethanol greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions value of 43.15; allow U.S. corn-based ethanol to be imported for the production of bio-ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE); increase the GHG emission values for Brazilian sugarcane ethanol and gasoline; and increase the GHG reduction target from 50 to 55 percent.  Comments on the proposed changes are due by January 18, 2018.  GAIN reports are prepared by U.S. Foreign Service officers working at posts overseas who collect and submit to FAS information on the agricultural situation.

Tags: Japan, Biofuel

 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 28, 2017, New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides announced that the New York City Council unanimously passed a bill on the use of alternative fuels and alternative fuel technologies in the city ferry fleet (INT. 54).  The legislation would require a two-year study on the feasibility of using alternative fuel, including biodiesel, and fuel technologies, including hybrid electric or fuel-cell electric, in city ferries.  The study would include consideration of availability, storage, ferry compatibility, possible barriers, regulatory requirements, and other issues related to renewable fuels.  Based on the findings, the city would determine whether it is feasible and practical to implement the use of renewable fuels.  The bill, which Council Member Constantinides introduced to the Council in 2014, is awaiting Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature.

Tags: NYC, Biofuel, Study

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 27, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to approve new fuel pathways under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  Specifically, EPA is proposing to amend RFS regulations to define the term “distillers sorghum oil” and to add approved pathways from the production of biodiesel and heating oil from distillers sorghum oil via a transesterification process, and renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) produced from distillers sorghum oil via a hydrotreating process.  Distillers sorghum oil is grain sorghum oil extracted at any point downstream from sorghum grinding at dry mill ethanol plants. 
 
The proposed rule outlines EPA’s analysis of the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with certain biofuels produced from distiller sorghum oil.  Based on its assessment, EPA determined that using distillers sorghum oil as feedstock results in no significant agricultural sector GHG emissions, and that biodiesel and heating oil produced from distillers sorghum oil via a transesterification process, and renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and LPG produced from distillers sorghum oil via a hydrotreating process, would meet the lifecycle GHG emissions reduction threshold of 50 percent required for advanced biofuels and biomass-based diesel under the RFS program.  Comments on the analysis are due by January 26, 2018.
 
In addition to EPA approval of the new pathway, producers may wish to confirm that the final sorghum-based product and all intermediates are listed on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory or covered by an exemption prior to commercialization.  While naturally occurring substances are automatically added to the TSCA Inventory, the TSCA “naturally occurring exemption” is very narrow.  Specifically, a naturally occurring substance includes “any chemical substance which is naturally occurring and:  (1) [w]hich is (i) unprocessed or (ii) processed only by manual, mechanical, or gravitational means; by dissolution in water; by flotation; or by heating solely to remove water; or (2) [w]hich is extracted from air by any means.”

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On December 14, 2017, General Automation Lab Technologies (GALT) announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) a three year $3.5 million grant to improve the growth and efficiency of biofuel-producing algae.  LLNL and GALT will collaborate on the project, which also aims to reduce wasted byproducts of photosynthesis by targeting microbiomes that can more efficiently recycle it back to carbon dioxide for the algae to grow better.  GALT’s novel high-throughput microbiome research technology will be used to screen tens of thousands of microbiome combinations.  Researchers aim to target bacteria that are able to increase biomass yield under the high light and temperature stress conditions that are found in desert environments such as Arizona, where plenty of sunlight and useable land exist and could potentially support future algal biofuel production facilities.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 21, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the launch of its online hub focused on sustainable aviation solutions.  Decarbonizingaviation.com is an online platform designed to raise awareness and facilitate dialog in reducing the aviation industry's carbon footprint.  The results of a recent survey by Neste demonstrate that 50 percent of travelers consider it important that their airline goes above and beyond regulations to be environmentally friendly, and that most passengers are willing to pay a fee for renewable jet fuel.  With nearly 90 percent growth in air travel predicted between 2016 and 2035, a transition towards carbon neutral growth is needed to curb the rise in carbon dioxide emissions from aviation.  According to Paul Paoletta, Head of Neste Aviation Solutions, “Neste is working relentlessly to help airports and all aviation stakeholders to take advantage of sustainable low-carbon fuels in their operations.”


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 12, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, announced that its additional production capacity for renewable diesel, renewable aviation fuel, and raw materials for various biochemical uses will be located in Singapore.  Following the decision, Neste will develop the technical design for the new product line, with the goal of securing a final investment decision by the end of 2018 and starting production by 2022.  The project will expand the capacity of Neste’s Singapore refinery increased to three million tons by 2020 and will incorporate an enhanced pre-treatment unit in preparation for the use of increasingly poor-quality waste materials.


 

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On December 8, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice in the Federal Register regarding its plans to submit an information collection request (ICR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on recordkeeping and reporting for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  The notices states that the ICR aims to streamline and update estimates related to the RFS program and consolidate all RFS estimates into one, consistent, and easy-to-understand format.
 
EPA is seeking public comment and information to enable it to: 

  • Evaluate 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;
  • Evaluate the accuracy of EPA’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.
​​According to the notice, EPA intends to amend the ICR based on the comments received.  More information regarding the ICR is available in the EPA docket.  Comments are due by February 6, 2018
Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 
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