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 Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 21, 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) released their interim report titled A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology.  The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) asked NAS to develop the framework to:

  • Guide an assessment of the security concerns related to advances in synthetic biology;
  • Assess the level of concern warranted for various advances and identify areas of vulnerability; and
  • Prioritize options to address these vulnerabilities.
The report provides an overview of the categories of synthetic biology and a set of initial questions aimed at guiding the assessment of concern related to the technologies and applications of the field.  The framework outlines factors for assessing the levels of concern that each technology and application presents in terms of malicious use, as well as factors for assessing the capability for mitigation.  The final report will use the framework to provide DOD with an assessment of concerns and mitigation options by developing informed answers to the questions posed in the interim report.

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On August 28, 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued in the Federal Register a notice of request for public comment on an extension of a previously approved information collection requirement regarding Biobased Procurements.  Pursuant to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Clause 52.223-2, Affirmative Procurement of Biobased Products Under Service and Construction Contracts, prime contractors are required to report annually the product types and dollar values of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-designated biobased products purchased to the System for Award Management (SAM) website.  Federal agencies use the submitted information to report annually to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) concerning actions taken to implement and measure progress in carrying out the preference for biobased products required under Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, codified at 7 U.S.C. § 8102.  
 
Comments are due by October 27, 2017.  Public comments are invited specifically on:

  • Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of functions of the FAR, and whether it will have practical utility;
  • Whether the estimate of the public burden of this collection of information is accurate, and based on valid assumptions and methodology;
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Ways in which we can minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through the use of appropriate technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.
Tags: DOD, GSA, NASA, Biobased

 

 

On January 19, 2017, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory issued a $55 million funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to establish additional Integrated Biofuel Production Enterprise (IBPE) capabilities to increase the domestic production capacity of advanced biofuels.  The U.S. Air Force anticipates granting one award of up to $55 million in funding with the recipients required to share at least 50 percent of the total project cost.  The project will include the design, construction and/or retrofit, operation, and qualification of a domestic IBPE with a capacity to produce at least ten million gallons of neat biofuel per year.  The FOA states that proposals can involve Brown Field expansion and/or modification of existing Pilot-scale facilities, commercial-scale facilities, or new Green Field construction.  Notice of intent to submit a proposal is due by April 25, 2017, with full proposals due by May 25, 2017.


 

 

 

 

On March 22, 2016, a team visited Malmstrom Air Force Base to test a new biobased synthetic oil in the base's vehicles. The testing is sponsored by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, with four bases chosen to use the plant based synthetic oil in vehicles. The Department of Homeland Security's Law Enforcement Training Center has also begun testing the oil and will be monitoring the impacts on vehicle performance and engine quality over the next 12-18 months. George Handy, the project manager, stated that the use of biobased oil is not expected to result in "any change in the performance of any of the vehicles because they are already running on synthetic fuels." If the testing goes well, the biobased oil will be available to purchase through normal channels, improving national security through the use of a domestically produced sustainable product.


 

On February 18, 2016, at the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference 2016 (ABLC2016), Dr. Catherine Woteki, Chief Scientist and Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), announced the release of the Federal Activities Report on the Bioeconomy. The report was created to share current federal agency activities that help to develop and support the bioeconomy. The report first introduces the importance of fostering the bioeconomy and the purpose of the Biomass Research & Development Board. From there the report covers all research, loan, and other projects that federal agencies are currently engaged in. The agencies covered in this report are:

  • USDA;
  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE);
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI);
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF);
  • The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD);
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT); and
  • The Executive Office of the President of the United States.

 

On October 27, 2014, President Obama announced new plans to strengthen the manufacturing sector. One of the listed plans involved the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Agriculture, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) coming together to invest in advanced materials, advanced sensors, and digital manufacturing. These three areas were determined to be critical to U.S. competitiveness and include biobased materials in the advanced materials category. Over $300 million is going to be invested across the three categories and the research investments by the federal government are expected to be matched by efforts in the private sector. More information about the announcement can be found in the statement released by the Office of the Press Secretary.


 
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