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 July 25, 2017, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) announced that the California Air Resource Board (CARB) certified a biodiesel additive that will make California B20 blends the cleanest diesel fuel with the lowest emissions profile available in the U.S.  The additive known as Branded VESTA™1000 reduces every measurable regulated emission, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), when blended with CARB diesel fuel, California’s unique clean-burning biodiesel formulation.  A 20 percent blend of biodiesel with the additive reduced NOx by 1.9 percent and particulate matter by 18 percent compared to CARB diesel.  The certified additive ensures compliance with CARB’s Alternative Diesel Fuel Regulation, which goes into effect on January 1, 2018.  NBB led the initial research and development of the additive.


 

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On July 18, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register its proposed rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program:  Standards for 2018 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2019.  The rulemaking proposes 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 in 2019, as reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group’s (BRAG®) blog post EPA Releases Proposed 2018 RFS Volume Requirements.  The proposed volume requirements are:

  • 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.
These volumes would set the percentage standards at 0.131 percent for cellulosic biofuel, 2.34 percent for advanced biofuel, 10.62 percent for renewable fuel, and 1.74 percent for biomass-based diesel.  Comments on the proposed rule must be received by August 31, 2017.
 
While the proposed reduction in the amount of renewable fuel is relatively small, many in the biofuels industry are concerned that it sends the signal to the market that the U.S. renewable fuel industry will no longer grow.  The proposed volume requirements may undercut the Administration’s goal of reducing U.S. reliance on foreign energy and reviving U.S. manufacturing, despite President Trump’s repeated pledge to support the ethanol industry.
 
As previously reported in the BRAG blog post EPA Announces Public Hearing On RFS Program, EPA will hold a Public Hearing for Standards for 2018 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2019 Under the RFS Program to listen to arguments from all interested stakeholders to inform future rulemakings on the volume requirements.  The hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. on August 1, 2017, in Washington, D.C.  EPA has until November 30, 2017, to issue the rulemaking in final.
Tags: EPA, RFS, 2018, Biofuel

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 14, 2017, the Royal Academy of Engineering (Academy) published a report on the sustainability pros and cons of biofuels, which was commissioned by the Department of Transport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.  The report aims to provide advice on the future strategy for the development of biofuels in the United Kingdom (UK).  In its statement announcing the report, the Academy stated that biofuels, particularly second generation biofuels from waste and byproducts, have a role to play in meeting the UK commitment to climate change mitigation.  While such biofuels have the potential to be sustainable and make a real impact, the Academy warned that action is needed to manage risks, improve traceability, and avoid fraudulent practice. 
 
The report calls on government to incentivize the development of second generation biofuels in the UK, specifically those derived from wastes and agricultural, forest, and sawmill residues, and to incentivize the use of marginal land, such as land unsuitable for food production or housing, for the production of biofuels.  The Academy also recommended that the government properly regulate the biofuels sector with clear and consistent categorization of wastes and residues to help avoid unintended market distortions within the UK and internationally, and that other sustainability issues, such as competitiveness of biofuels with fossil fuels; food, energy and water security; employment provision; rural development; and human health impacts, be evaluated.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 19, 2017, SkyNRG, along with Carbon War Room (CWR) and the Port of Seattle, announced their recommendations for long-term funding mechanisms to supply all airlines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) with sustainable aviation biofuels.  Their report, titled “Innovative Funding For Sustainable Aviation Fuel At U.S. Airports:  Explored At Seattle-Tacoma International,” reviews a broad array of airport funding sources, the legal constraints and financial impacts of each source, as well as biofuel supply chain infrastructure investments.  Regarding next steps, it was recommended that the Port of Seattle establish a dedicated team to build the business case for a local sustainable aviation fuels supply chain, and facilitate regional production of such fuels through the active promotion of policy and regulatory support at the state and regional levels.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 11, 2017, DOE announced the selection of three projects focused on reducing the costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts that will receive up to $8 million in funding.    The projects aim to generate high-impact tools and techniques for increasing the productivity of algae organisms and cultures and biology-focused breakthroughs.  The project winners include:

  • Lumen Bioscience, which will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on the agricultural production of algae on otherwise non-productive land in rural eastern Washington State by rapidly engineering strains that grow robustly in seawater, resist contamination and predation, and accumulate substantial amounts of energy-rich components;
  • Global Algae Innovations, which will work in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, University of California at San Diego – Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the J. Craig Venter Institute to deliver a tool for low cost, rapid analysis of pond microbiota, gather data on the impacts of pond ecology, and develop new cultivation methods that utilize this information to achieve greater algal productivity; and
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory, which will work with Sapphire Energy to help the algal research and development community better understand these metrics at commercial scales by evaluating rationally designed pond cultures containing multiple species of algae, as well as beneficial bacteria, to achieve consistent biomass composition and high productivity.

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 11, 2017, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) issued its June Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).  EIA considered EPA’s recent rulemakings on the 2017 RFS volume requirements and proposed 2018 RFS volume requirements when developing its STEO for 2017 and 2018
 
Biodiesel production averaged 101,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2016, and, according to EIA, is expected to increase to an average of 105,000 b/d in 2017 and to 109,000 b/d in 2018.  Biomass-based diesel imports are expected to fall from 54,000 b/d in 2016 to 53,000 b/d in 2017 but rise to 59,000 b/d in 2018.
 
Ethanol production averaged 1.0 million b/d in 2016 and is expected to average slightly above 1.0 million b/d in 2017, which would be a record, but will likely decline slightly in 2018.  Ethanol consumption averaged about 940,000 b/d in 2016 and is forecast to increase slightly in 2017 and 2018.  As a result, the ethanol share of the total gasoline pool will increase to nearly 10.1% in both 2017 and 2018.  Only marginal increases in higher-level ethanol blends are assumed to occur during the STEO forecast period.


 

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On July 5, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for 2018, as well as biomass-based diesel for 2019.  The proposal lowers the blending requirement for all renewable fuel with the exception of biomass-based diesel, which maintains the 2017 blending requirement.  The proposed volume requirements are:

Cellulosic biofuel, from 311 million gallons in 2017 to 238 million gallons in 2018;
Advanced biofuel, from 4.28 billion gallons in 2017 to 4.24 billion gallons in 2018;
Renewable fuel, from 19.28 billion gallons in 2017 to 19.24 billion gallons in 2018; and
Biomass-based diesel, 2.1 billion gallons in 2018 and 2019.


These volumes would set the percentage standards at 0.131 percent for cellulosic biofuel, 2.34 percent for advanced biofuel, 10.62 percent for renewable fuel, and 1.74 percent for biomass-based diesel.  The proposed rule will be open for comment for 45 days following the official publication in the Federal Register.

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel, 2018

 
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