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.

The World 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.

   

 

Flint 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 property.

 

 

The United Kingdom (UK) Department for Transport (DfT) announced the launch of a £25 million competition for funding to build advanced biofuel plants. The funding will eventually lead to the construction of up to three demonstration level advanced biofuel plants in the UK. In order to qualify for funding, the biofuels being produced need to have at least 60 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels and be made from waste materials. Potential bidders have until February 13, 2015, to provide a detailed expression of interest, with full proposals due in June 2015. The demonstration plants that are constructed as a result of this competition are expected to produce one million liters or more of biofuel per year and be operational by December 2018. Application information for the Advanced Biofuels Demonstration Competition is available online.

 

 

On October 29, 2014, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) announced that Appalachian Biofuels LLC will invest about $3.5 million to establish its headquarters and an enzymatic biodiesel production facility in St. Paul, Virginia. The location is expected to create 40 jobs, which will be filled by former coal miners from the town of St. Paul and surrounding areas. Appalachian Biofuels will be refining waste feedstock materials with an enzyme to create biodiesel. The two organizations mainly responsible for offering financial incentives for Appalachian Biofuels to settle in Virginia are the Governor's Opportunity Fund, which provided a $200,000 grant, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, which provided a $210,000 grant.


 

On October 22, 2014, Boeing and the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) opened the China-U.S. Aviation Biofuel Pilot Project, a demonstration facility that will turn used cooking oil into aviation biofuel at a rate of 170 gallons per day. This project will assess the feasibility of producing higher volumes of biofuel, as China has enough used cooking oil to make as much as 500 million gallons of biofuel annually. Working together since 2012, Boeing and COMAC support China's commercial aviation, and collaborate with Chinese universities and research institutions to further knowledge on aviation oil and other efficiency improvements. More information can be found in Boeing's press release about the Aviation Biofuel Pilot Project.


 

During the next state legislative session, which begins in January, Iowa's Economic Development Agency will reportedly seek approximately $20 million in new incentives for companies that use chemicals derived from ethanol production to produce biobased products. The Agency reportedly believes sufficient incentives exist to promote biofuel development in Iowa. This new incentive would be needed to help further the biobased economy in the State. More information on this effort is available in The Des Moines Register news story "Biochem Tax Credit Pitched By Economic Agency."


 

On October 17, 2014, Abengoa opened -- and DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz dedicated -- the world's largest cellulosic biorefinery in Hugoton, Kansas. This second generation cellulosic ethanol plant will process 1,000 tons of biomass per day and utilize mainly corn stover, as well as wheat straw, milo stubble, and switch grass. This biorefinery will produce up to 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol every year. It benefited from a $132.4 million loan guarantee and a $97 million grant, both from DOE. More information about the plant and comments from the opening ceremony are available in a DOE press release, "Secretary Moniz Dedicates Innovative Commercial-Scale Cellulosic Biofuel Plant" and on the Biofuels Digest website.


 

On September 19, 2014, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) introduced the Bridge to a Clean Energy Future Act of 2014 (H.R. 5559), which was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. The bill would extend clean energy tax incentives, including those benefiting the biofuel and bioenergy industries. Among the tax credits being extended are the second generation biofuel producer credit, the $1.00 per gallon tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel, and the Section 45 renewable energy production tax credit. More information is available online.


 
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