On April 9, 2015, the Pentagon released the Rocky Mountain/West Coast/Offshore Bulk Fuels Annual Buy (RMW) solicitation for biofuels on the FedBizOpps website. This purchase program supports the goal set by the Secretary of the Navy to have half of the Department of the Navy's energy come from alternative sources by 2020. Funding to defray additional biofuel costs for the RMW program is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Commodity Credit Corporation. Vendors can submit bids with at least 10 percent of alternative fuel up to the maximum allowed by JP-5 and F-76 specifications. The solicitation is for fuel deliveries from October 1, 2015, to September 30, 2016, and proposals must be submitted by May 8, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. (EDT).
On April 1, 2015, the Governor of Ohio, John Kasich (R), signed the 2016-2017 Transportation Budget Bill (Sub. H.B. 53). The state transportation budget does not include a requirement on alternative fuel use in the state vehicle fleet, a requirement that had been in place since 2006. Ohio Department of Transportation's Matt Bruning stated that the requirement mandated the state increase the amount of alternative fuels each year with no cap in place, resulting in higher costs for the state, especially with the recent decrease in prices for traditional petroleum-based fuels. "It's not that we don't like alternative fuels -- it's just a cost thing, really," stated Bruning to WOSU Public Media. The loss of the biofuels mandate in Ohio will only impact fuels used by state vehicle fleets.
EPA is accepting public comments through May 26, 2015, on two
proposed information collection requests (ICR) published in the Federal
Register on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. The proposed ICRs concern projected
cellulosic biofuels volumes and gasoline containing greater than 10 volume
percent ethanol up to 15 volume percent ethanol (E15). Comments received will
assist EPA as the agency prepares to submit the final ICRs to the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) for its official approval and dissemination.
In the first proposed ICR on "Cellulosic
Production Volume Projections and Efficient Producer Reporting,"
EPA is seeking to collect information from potential cellulosic biofuel
producers to aid in determining the annual volume standards. In the second
proposed ICR on "Recordkeeping
and Reporting Related to E15 (Renewal)," EPA is seeking
comment on recordkeeping and reporting items related to the legal use of E15 in
On March 12, 2015, Christopher Grundler, Director of EPA's Office
of Transportation and Air Quality, signed the Notice
Of Opportunity to Comment on an Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Attributable to Production and Transport of Pennycress (Thlaspi Avense) Oil for
Use in Biofuel Production. This notice states that biofuels
produced from pennycress oil could qualify as biomass-based diesel or advanced
biofuel when they are produced using typical fuel production process
technologies. The notice is the result of an analysis of the greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions that come from the production and transport of pennycress oil.
According to the analysis, pennycress oil has less than or equal GHG emissions
per ton of oil than soybean oil when accounting for crop inputs, crushing,
extraction, and direct and indirect land use change. Soybean oil and pennycress
oil are expected to also have the same fuel yield per pound of oil. This means
that pennycress oil-based biofuels could produce less GHG than soybean
oil-based biofuels. The notice has not yet been published in the Federal
Register, but once posted will be found at the soon to be opened Docket No.
EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0091. Comments will be open for 30 days after publication.
Coalition of Minnesota is advocating strongly for two bills in the
state that if passed would result in a two-year, $5 million production
incentive for producers, and a capital loan equipment program. The bills, HF
536 and SF
517, would benefit companies that develop biochemicals, advanced biofuels,
and anaerobic digestion projects. There is concern, however, that the
legislation would increase the production of corn rather than encourage the
production of crops that do not require the same heavy use of fertilizer as
corn. Citing concerns about fertilizer runoffs in the river, combined with corn
being an easy source to convert to biofuel, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership
and Friends of the Mississippi River
have suggested amending the bills to: (1) require biofuel refineries receiving
the production incentive to have at least 50 percent of their feedstock come
from perennials; and (2) pay incentives to farmers who switch from corn to
perennials. HF 536 has already been changed to include a 20 percent bonus for
the use of perennials over corn. It is likely that both bills will continue to
change to reflect continued concerns about water quality in Minnesota.
FOR ABLC 2015
Bioeconomy Leadership Conference 2015 (ABLC 2015), to be held March 11-13, 2015, at
the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., is the gathering point for top leaders
in the Advanced Bioeconomy -- bringing together the entire spectrum of advanced
fuels, chemicals, and materials CEOs and senior executives, business
development, R&D leaders, strategic partners, financiers, equity analysts,
policymakers, and industry suppliers.
M. Roberts, Executive Director of BRAG, will share her insights
regarding the current regulatory landscape for biobased products during the
opening panel of the conference, "ABLC Policy Outlook," alongside
directors of the Advanced Biofuels Association, BIO, Algal Biomass
Organization, the Advanced Ethanol Council, the National Biodiesel Board, and
the American Council on Renewable Energy.
E. Engler, Ph.D., Senior Policy Advisor for Bergeson &
Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), will speak during the "Government
Agency Outlook and Updates" session. Dr. Engler recently joined B&C
after 17 years as senior staff scientist and leader of the Green Chemistry
Program in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Pollution
Prevention and Toxics (OPPT). Dr. Engler's co-panelists include speakers from
DOE, USDA, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Resources Institute (WRI) issued a working paper, "Avoiding
Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land," as part of its
series on "Creating
a Sustainable Food Future." The paper concludes that using
land for bioenergy purposes results in that land not being available for
growing food or animal feed, and, as such, urges policy changes that would
phase-out bioenergy and biofuel from crops. According
to a New York Times article, the WRI report urges governments to
reconsider their reliance on biofuels. The Renewable
Fuels Association issued a press
release in response to the WRI report, stating that the report
makes hypothetical predictions but fails to substantiate its claims on
competition with food crops and land.
Hills Resources has completed the acquisition of an ethanol plant near Camilla,
Georgia, from Southwest Georgia Ethanol, LLC. Flint Hills
Resources' biofuels business now includes seven ethanol plants with a combined
annual capacity of 820 million gallons, a biodiesel plant, and investments in
biofuels technology and feedstock development. Camilla is the Company's first
ethanol plant located outside of the Midwest.
On December 12, 2014, the Senate passed a House amendment to the Carl Levin
and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 2015 (NDAA FY15). The final version of the NDAA FY15
places restrictions on how the military is able to acquire biofuels by
prohibiting funding from being used for bulk purchase of drop-in biofuels where
the fully burdened cost of the biofuels is not cost competitive with the fully
burdened cost of available traditional fuels. The bill defines a fully burdened
cost as "the commodity price of the fuel plus the total cost of all
personnel and assets required to move and, when necessary, protect the fuel
from the point at which the fuel is received from the commercial supplier to
the point of use."
In addition, the NDAA FY15 requires the Secretary of Defense, or
the Secretary of the relevant military department, to submit a business case
analysis to the Congressional defense committees at least 30 days before
entering contracts for the "planning, design, refurbishment, or
construction of a biofuels refinery, or of any other facility or infrastructure
used to refine biofuels." The Congressional Budget Office
has completed a review of the effect that the bill would have on direct
spending and revenue and has determined that NDAA FY15 would result in a
decrease in direct spending by $1.9 billion from 2015 to 2024.
On December 16, 2014, the Senate followed the House of
Representatives and passed tax extender legislation that is expected to be
signed by the President. The final package that passed would retroactively
extend incentives that expired on December 31, 2013, through the end of 2014.
It does not extend the incentives through the end of 2015, as Senate Finance
Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and other leaders would have liked.
The final tax extender package includes important incentives for
the biofuels industry, including the dollar-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit, as
well as the biofuel production tax credit for cellulosic and algae-based
biofuels and the special allowance for second generation biofuel plant