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 November 30, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final 2018 volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel.  A pre-publication of the final rule is available now.  The final rule sets the annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported in 2018, as well as biomass-based diesel for 2019.  The proposed volume requirements are:

  • Cellulosic biofuel, from 311 million gallons in 2017 to 288 million gallons in 2018;
  • Advanced biofuel, from 4.28 billion gallons in 2017 to 4.29 billion gallons in 2018;
  • Renewable fuel, from 19.28 billion gallons in 2017 to 19.29 billion gallons in 2018; and
  • Biomass-based diesel, 2.1 billion gallons in 2018 and 2019.​

The cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and renewable fuel volumes increased slightly from the values proposed in July 2017, as reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group’s (BRAG®) blog post EPA Releases Proposed 2018 RFS Volume Requirements.  These final volumes change the percentage standards to 0.159 percent for cellulosic biofuel, 2.37 percent for advanced biofuel, 10.67 percent for renewable fuel, and 1.74 percent for biomass-based diesel.  This final rule becomes effective on 60 days after publication in the Federal Register

Tags: EPA, Biofuel, RFS

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On November 29, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that a collaboration between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) resulted in the successful modification of a microorganism to produce a versatile fermentation intermediate that can be upgraded into valuable biobased fuels and chemicals.  NREL’s cellulosic ethanol fermentation organism (Zymomonas mobilis), is capable of exclusively producing 2,3-butanediol (2,3-BDO), which can be catalytically upgraded to a variety of hydrocarbon fuel precursors and valuable chemical co-products.  Techno-economic modeling was performed to study the potential of producing hydrocarbon fuel precursors and co-products in a cost effective manner.  The first breakthrough occurred with genetic modifications to eliminate the ethanol pathways to ensure that sugar metabolism pathways also produced 2,3-BDO.  ORNL continues to explore modifications to its catalytic upgrading system to achieve further process simplifications and cost savings.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On November 29, 2017, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (Ministry) issued proposed amendments to the Ethanol in Gasoline regulation (O. Reg. 535/05) and the Greener Diesel -- Renewable Fuel Content Requirements for Petroleum Diesel Fuel (O. Reg. 97/14) under the Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.E.19.  Among the proposed changes is an increase from a 5 percent ethanol blending mandate to 10 percent starting in 2020; a requirement that ethanol sold for compliance to be 35 percent lower in greenhouse gases (GHG) than gasoline; and the application of existing incentives to a wider range of advanced biofuels.  According to the Ministry, the proposed amendments are intended to work with the expected federal Clean Fuels Standard (CFS), ensuring GHG reductions take place in Ontario and Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan goals are supported.  The Ministry stated that it is exploring options to support biofuel production and innovation through a Blenders Support Program (BSP) as well.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On November 30, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice in the Federal Register announcing its decision to deny several petitions requesting that EPA initiate a rulemaking to change the point of obligation for compliance under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  Under the RFS program, refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel fuel are identified as “obligated parties” responsible for compliance with the RFS annual standards.  In 2016, EPA received several petitions requesting a revision of the definition of “obligated party,” stating that such a change would align compliance responsibilities with the parties best positioned to make decisions on how much renewable fuel is blended into the transportation fuel supply in the United States.  As previously reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post, “EPA Announces Opportunity To Comment On Changing The RFS Point Of Obligation,” EPA requested public comment on the petitions and the Agency’s proposed denial of the requests.  In reviewing the petitions and public comments, EPA stated that its primary consideration was whether or not a change in the point of obligation would improve the effectiveness of the program to achieve Congress’s goals.  According to the notice, EPA determined that such a change would not improve the efficiency of the program, but would unnecessarily increase the complexity of the program and undermine the success of the RFS program.

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On November 22, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, announced exclusive partnerships with four California fuel distributors that will provide public and private fleets access to a consistent and high-quality supply of Neste MY Renewable Diesel.  Through the partnerships with IPC (USA), Inc., Ramos Oil Company, Van De Pol Petroleum, and Western States Oil, Neste renewable diesel will be available to customers in Southern California, Northeast California, the Central Valley, and the North Coast.  According to Jeremy Baines, Vice President of Sales with Neste US, Inc., "these partnerships are vital in securing the delivery of our branded, high-quality renewable diesel to customers such as municipalities and private fleets, who will benefit from its performance and lower emissions."  Neste MY Renewable Diesel is a low-carbon drop-in fuel produced from 100 percent renewable raw materials that meets California’s strict fuel regulations.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) announced a collaboration with bio-bean, a clean technology company, that will power London’s buses using a biofuel made partly from waste coffee grounds.  Bio-bean collects waste coffee grounds from high street chains and factories, dries and processes the grounds, and then extracts the coffee oil, which Argent Energy, bio-bean’s fuel partner, processes into a blended B20 biofuel.  The biofuel contains a 20 percent bio-component that contains part coffee oil and is being added to the London bus fuel supply chain without the need for modification.  To date, 6,000 liters of coffee oil have been produced, which is capable of powering one London bus for a year.  The collaboration represents the most recent part of Shell's #makethefuture energy relay, which supports entrepreneurs turning bright energy innovations into a positive impact for communities around the world.

Tags: Biofuel

 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On October 31, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent its final rule to set the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for 2018 and 2019 to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.  Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA must issue a final rule to set standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel by November 30, 2017.  Typically, OMB review is the last step before the final rule is published in the Federal Register and takes 30 days. Timely issuance of the final volume requirements is critical for preventing uncertainty in the biofuel industry. In previous years, delays in the establishment of volume requirements resulted in a decrease in production and investments in the biofuel industry.

  • 238 million gallons for cellulosic biofuel in 2018, down from 311 million gallons in 2017; 
  • 4.24 billion gallons for advanced biofuel in 2018, down from 4.28 billion gallons in 2017;
  • 19.24 billion gallons for renewable fuel in 2018, down from 19.28 billion gallons in 2017; and
  • 2.1 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel in 2018 and 2019.
Many in the biofuels industry were concerned with the proposed reduction in the amount of renewable fuel, compared to previous years.  In an October 19, 2017, letter to Republican Senators, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt indicated that the final Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) amounts would be set at levels equal to or greater than the proposed amounts.  More information on the proposed requirements is available in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group’s (BRAG®) blog post, “EPA Publishes Proposed 2018 RFS Requirements.”
Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 
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