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 Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 24, 2017, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys representing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the renewable fuels and petroleum industries presented oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit regarding the petition to review the renewable volume obligations (RVO) for 2014-2016.  The petition, which was filed on January 8, 2016, by seven biofuel and agricultural groups, challenged EPA’s authority to set volume requirements for biofuel blending below standards put forth in the 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) law.  During the oral arguments, Samara Spence, a DOJ attorney, argued that insufficient infrastructure prevented EPA from setting a higher advanced biofuel standard in the 2014-2016 final rule.  Seth Waxman, an attorney representing Americans for Clean Energy, argued that EPA misunderstood its authority under the statute.  According to statements from the federal appeals court judges, scaling back the blending requirements may be viewed as an abuse of EPA’s authority. 
 
In a joint statement in response to the oral arguments, the American Coalition for Ethanol, BIO, Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Sorghum Producers, and the Renewable Fuels Association stated that they are “optimistic that the Court will honor Congress’ intent and remove these and other obstacles EPA has impermissibly erected to cleaner and more sustainable renewable fuels from entering the marketplace.”  More information on the petition to review the RFS for 2014, 2015, and 2016 is available in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post “Biofuel, Corn, And Sorghum Farmers Challenge Lowered RFS Volumes.”

Tags: DOJ, EPA, RVO, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 26, 2017, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to reform the biodiesel tax credit and extend the new policy for three years.  The American Renewable Fuel and Job Creation Act of 2017, which was sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and 14 other senators, transfers the $1 gallon tax credit from the blenders to the producers of biofuels to ensure that it incentivizes domestic production.  The bill also provides an additional $0.10 gallon credit for small biodiesel producers in the United States.  According to a statement released by Grassely, the bill would incentivize domestic production, remove a system that allows foreign biodiesel producers to benefit from the tax credit, and would have little to no impact on the consumer. 


 

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.


 
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