By Lynn L. Bergeson
On October 2, 2019, the government of Quebec, Canada, published in its Official Gazette a notice of a draft regulation setting standards for the integration of renewable fuels into gasoline and diesel fuel. Under the draft regulation, the standards will apply on July 1, 2021, and will then increase. As of July 1, 2025, the integration of a minimum volume of ethanol of 15 percent into gasoline and a minimum volume of biobased diesel fuel of 4 percent into diesel fuel will be required. Given the evaluation by the Canadian government of this matter, the notice states that the proposed regulation would have no particular impact on small and medium-sized businesses because the petroleum products distribution sector is made up of large businesses. Also on July 1, 2025, enterprises subject to the regulation will invest a total of 110 million Canadian dollars in infrastructure to comply with the set standards for the integration of renewable fuels into gasoline and diesel fuel.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
On October 2, 2019, the Green Party of Canada commented, via a press release, on its Green Climate Action Plan called “Mission: Possible.” Aiming to exceed the U.S. Green New Deal, under this plan, the Green Party outlines a 20-step action plan to achieve the goal of zero emissions by 2050. Part of the strategy outlined emphasizes the idea that heavy-duty industrial machinery will need to rely on biofuels. Although the plan is to ban internal combustion engines and ensure that cars, buses, and trains are powered by electricity by 2030, biofuels will still be needed for fishing, mining, and forestry equipment. According to the plan, these biofuel needs will be addressed through the creation of biofuels using waste plant matter from forests and agriculture -- and only plant-based biofuels. Claiming that food that would otherwise be used to feed Canadians, the Green Party highly opposes food-based biofuels. Its plan, therefore, promotes development of local, small-scale biodiesel production that would rely primarily on used vegetable fat from restaurants across Canada, along with wood and agricultural waste. Fuel switching to biodiesel would be required for agricultural, fishing, and forestry equipment.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
On October 2, 2019, the Governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, announced that applications are now open for all 15 seats on the Governor’s Biofuels Council. Established in September 2019 by Governor Walz, the Governor’s Biofuels Council advises the Governor and cabinet on how best to support Minnesota’s biofuels industry. Council members will include representatives of agriculture, biofuels, and transportation industries and environmental and conservation groups. The Governor’s Biofuels Council is tasked with creating a report to advise the Governor and cabinet on the best methods to expand the use of biofuels, increase the carbon efficiency of biofuels, and implement biofuels as part of Minnesota’s larger goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) production in the transportation sector. Under Governor Walz’s September 16, 2019, Executive Order, the Governor’s Biofuels Council must complete the report by November 2020. Thus far, 30 individuals have applied, and Governor Walz encourages “Minnesotans in every corner of the state to apply and share their expertise on this critical issue.” Interested parties can access the application here.
- WTVB News, “Trump Meets with Senators from Key Farm States, Touts Biofuel Deal Progress”
- Market Realist, “Big Biofuels Issue: Trump Meets with Refiners, Senators”
- Cornell Alliance for Science, “Plant Breeding Innovations Required to Weather Climate Change, Report Says”
- Global News Canada, “Burnaby Becomes Latest B.C. City to Declare a Climate Emergency”
- just-food, “Danone-Backed Meat-Analogue Business Sustainable Bioproducts Eyes Launch”
- CBS Minnesota, “Governor Walz Establishes Biofuels Council”
- Los Angeles Times, “California Lawmakers Fail to Act on Recycling Bills to Phase Out Single-Use Plastics”
- Fast Company, “It’s Now Cheaper to Build New Renewables Than It Is to Build Natural Gas Plants”
- Reuters, “Trump Backs Plan That Would Boost Biofuel Quotas 10% in 2020”
- Reuters, “Facing Farmer Anger, Trump Scrambles Cabinet to Brainstorm on Biofuel Policy: Sources”
- Cosmeticsdesign.com, “Sulapac: The Startup Making Biodegradable, Plastic-Free Beauty Packaging a Reality”
- The Times, “EU Curbs Used Cooking Oil in Biodiesel Due to Fears of Fraud”
- Plastics News, “Resin Distributors Taking Different Paths to Sustainability”
- Engineering.com, “Algae Filter Paper Offers New Hope for Stopping Waterborne Illness”
- The Gazette, “Amy Klobuchar: Trump Treating Farmers Like ‘Bargaining Chips’”
- Forbes, “Boston Startup Puts a New Spin on Silk, Replacing Petrochemicals in Clothing and Skincare”
- The Asahi Shimbun, “Rain-Resistant Wheat Variety Developed Using Genome Editing”
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On August 21, 2019, Iowa Democratic Representative Cindy Axne asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Inspector General (IG) to investigate how EPA decided to grant the exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requested by oil refiners. EPA approved 31 petitions for waivers from the 2018 requirements. Lawmakers are not pleased at what appears to be EPA favoring the oil industry. Hence, Representative Axne’s call for an IG investigation into how EPA decided to expand the number of waivers it issued since President Trump came into office. Representative Axne held a press conference on August 21, 2019, at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, an ethanol producer in Iowa. This is the same plant where Trump touted his action expanding sales of 15 percent ethanol.
According to Reuters, Trump is seeking to mollify corn farmers who are incensed over the exemptions. He personally approved EPA’s decision to go ahead with the waivers, but in a cabinet meeting, Trump told his staff to figure out a way to pacify the farmers. Alarmingly, and according to a refinery industry source, the President also asked EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler if he could take the exemptions back; he was told he could not.
Citing data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), EPA stated the United States had been setting records for both ethanol production and exports. “There is zero evidence that EPA’s Congressionally mandated small refinery exemption program, which provides regulatory relief to small refineries around the country, has had any negative impact on domestic corn ethanol producers,” EPA said in a statement. Nonetheless, POET, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, has idled an Indiana plant due to the waivers. “Our industry invested billions of dollars based on the belief that oil could not restrict access to the market and EPA would stand behind the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard,” POET CEO Jeff Broin said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the oil industry is manipulating the EPA and is now using the RFS to destroy demand for biofuels.”
- Redshift, “Bamboo Transcends the Tropics for Carbon-Negative Construction”
- New Age, “Trump’s EPA Grants 31 Refinery Waivers from Biofuel Laws, Angering Corn Lobby”
- Plastemart.com, “New Bio-Based Thermoplastic Adhesive for the Bonding of Compostable Plastic Coating”
- AgWeek, “EPA Official Talks about Future of Biofuels and Carbon Sequestration”
- FoodBev Media, “Unilever Debuts Magnum Tubs Created from Recycled Plastic”
- Tech Explorist, “Solar Energy Turns into Biofuel without Solar Cells”
- Fast Company, “This Startup Created Compostable Plastic Wrap That’s Made from Shellfish Shells”
- newsnow, “New Zealand’s Gene Editing Laws Need an Overhaul, Country’s Top Scientific Body Says”
- Food Processing, “USDA Mulls Organic Gene-Altered Crops”