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 Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 25, 2018, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) dropped its nearly decade long pursuit to convert a $1-per-gallon tax credit for biofuel blenders to an equivalent credit for producers. NBB originally sought to change the credit to support the domestic biofuel industry, as some blenders who benefited from the credit were also importing foreign biodiesel. Recent import duties imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department have done a great deal to curb inexpensive biodiesel imports from Indonesia and Argentina (as reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post “USTIC Determines Argentinian And Indonesian Biodiesel Dumping Injured U.S. Industry”), thus removing much of the impetus to convert the tax credit program. The $1-per-gallon credit has been retroactively approved for 2017 and NBB continues to push for the credit’s extension in 2018.

Tags: NBB, Tax, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 21, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced that it will fund 87 new projects across 34 states, totaling nearly $13 million in funding.  This funding is part of the 219 grants totaling $34 million awarded to 183 small businesses in 41 states through the DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Nine EERE technology offices are funding ten Phase I topic areas (Advanced Manufacturing I & II, Bioenergy, Buildings, Fuel Cells, Geothermal. Solar, Vehicles, Water, and Wind) across 29 subtopics.  The announcement states that DOE technology offices “award Phase I grants to small businesses that demonstrate technical feasibility for innovations during the first phase of their research,” most Phase I awards “are for $150,000 for less than one year,” and, if completed successfully, “Phase I projects are eligible for … Phase II funding awards [that] provide up to $1 million or up to $1.5 million, depending on the technology, and an award known as a sequential Phase II award can provide up to an additional $1 million.”  

The full list of EERE-funded projects, that includes 13 bioenergy projects, is available online.  The bioenergy companies receiving funding are:  Emergy LLC; Media and Process Technology Inc.; SarTec Corporation; TDA Research, Inc.; Bio-Missions LLC; Faraday Technology, Inc.;  Industrial Microbes, Inc.; Lygos; Global Algae Innovations, Inc. (three projects); MicroBio Engineering; and Molecule Works Inc.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 16, 2018, Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc. announced the start of site construction for Phase 2 of the Sierra BioFuels Plant in Reno, Nevada.  This commercial-scale plant will be the nation’s first to convert municipal solid waste feedstock into low-carbon, renewable jet fuel. “Launching the final construction phase of Sierra is another milestone for Fulcrum, our partners, Northern Nevada and the low-carbon fuels industry,” Jim Macias, Fulcrum’s President and Chief Executive Officer, stated during the groundbreaking event. “We’ve spent ten years developing, designing, testing, improving and demonstrating this new process so that it is now ready for commercial deployment. By converting waste into low-carbon transportation fuel, Fulcrum provides a real solution to the aviation industry’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.”
 
Fulcrum’s thermochemical conversion process for jet fuel is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 80 percent when compared to traditional petroleum fuel. The Reno plant is scheduled to start commercial production in 2020, producing 10.5 million gallons of fuel annually. Similar plants are currently in development by Fulcrum, with eventual plans to collectively produce more than 300 million gallons of jet fuel annually. These plans have already drawn airline investors to Fulcrum, with Cathay Pacific Airways investing in 2014, and United Airlines investing in 2015.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 30, 2018, 18 pro-ethanol Senators sent a bi-partisan letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting a “transparent timeline … on the regulatory pathway forward to address the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) issue,” “an expected timeline of the rulemaking process to clarify how the agency will make this change to allow higher ethanol blends access to the marketplace” and “immediate clarity to allow higher ethanol blends to be sold in the interim while the outdated regulation is being changed” as related to President Trump’s commitment to allow for 15 percent ethanol blends (E15) to be sold year-round and Pruitt’s statements in an EPA budget hearing in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment regarding EPA’s issuance of a waiver that would allow year-round sales of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.

Tags: EPA, E15, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 1, 2018, DOE Secretary Rick Perry announced that up to $68.5 million in funding will be available for early-stage research of advanced vehicle technologies through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).  The announcement states that the available funding “will enable more affordable mobility, strengthen domestic energy security, and enhance U.S. economic growth.”  Projects selected through this Vehicle Technologies Office funding opportunity will address the following:

  • Priorities in advanced batteries and electrification, including cyber security related to electric vehicle charging (up to $27 million);
  • Materials for both lighter weight vehicle structures and advanced powertrains (up to $6 million);
  • Technology integration and energy-efficient mobility systems (up to $20 million); and
  • Engines and fuels, including technologies for off-road applications (up to $3.5 million), as well as the co-optimization of engines and fuels (up to $12 million).
Concept papers for this funding opportunity are due May 29, 2018, and full applications will be due July 13, 2018.Information on the application requirements is available on the EERE Exchange website and Grants.gov.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 1, 2018, a new biodiesel requirement went into effect in Minnesota, requiring all diesel fuel sold in the state to contain five percent biodiesel from October to March and 20 percent biodiesel from April to September. This is the last stage of the Biodiesel Content Mandate that has been steadily increasing the minimum content requirement of biodiesel in diesel sold in Minnesota since September 29, 2005, when a two percent blend requirement was introduced. Since then the requirement has increased to five percent on May 1, 2009, and stayed at five percent for the winter months while the summer requirement increased to ten percent on July 1, 2014, and reached the final 20 percent requirement for the summer months this May.  Minnesota originally planned to transition to a ten percent biodiesel blend on May 1, 2012, but concerns about inadequate blending infrastructure delayed implementation. Minnesota’s government is confident that the state is prepared to switch to a 20 percent biodiesel blend, with sufficient fuel and feedstock supply and adequate blending infrastructure. Tom Slunecka, CEO of the Minnesota Soybean Growers, states consumers benefit the most from the B20 mandate, “They’re getting better, cleaner air because biodiesel is in our fuel tanks.  They’re getting the benefit of an industry that was born here in Minnesota.  It’s produced here, it’s consumed here.  So all the taxes stay right here.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 24, 2018, UPM Biofuels announced that its crude tall oil (CTO) feedstock for BioVerno renewable fuels had received the first ever RSB (Roundtable of Sustainable Biomaterials) low ILUC (indirect land use change) risk certification. This certificate confirms that the amount of CTO used to make BioVerno is sustainable and not diverted from other uses, resulting in little to no ILUC risk. Rolf Hogan, Executive Director of RSB, said of the certification:

The RSB is proud to count UPM among the visionary biofuel producers that are not only RSB certified for their wood-based biofuels in Lappeenranta, Finland and Brassica carinata cultivation in Uruguay, but have now received the world's first RSB low ILUC risk certification. This shows that their biofuels have not only achieved the requirements of our rigorous standard for sustainability, they have also been verified under this module, meaning they have minimal or zero risk of indirect impacts - such as deforestation or increased food prices - elsewhere in the world. With reduced greenhouse gas emissions which meet the highest standards of sustainability and transparency, as well as demonstrating the lowest impacts on nature and food production, these are the biofuels of the future

Tags: UPM, Biofuel, ILUC, RSB

 

 
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