By Lynn L. Bergeson
On May 24, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that, as part of the DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO) support to small businesses, BETO has awarded approximately $2 million, out of $13 million awarded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), to 13 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grants. DOE states that these small businesses are “improving the state of technology for algae crop development and harvesting, driving down the cost of converting wet organic waste streams to biofuels and bioproducts, and increasing the carbon efficiency of biomass conversion.” Awardees come from across the United States, including Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, California, Washington, Colorado, and Hawaii.
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 23, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced that a pre-recorded informational webinar regarding the proposed National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) will be made available beginning on June 1, 2018. 83 Fed. Reg. 23827. The Federal Register notice states that the pre-recorded webinar “will provide an overview of the background, provisions, and potential impacts of the proposed standard,” and the proposed standard “would require food manufacturers and other entities that label foods for retail sale to disclose information about bioengineered food and bioengineered food ingredients.” The webinar will be available on USDA’s Rules & Regulations webpage.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On May 4, 2018, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) proposed a rule to establish the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard mandated by Congress in 2016. 83 Fed. Reg. 19860. USDA states the standard will provide “a uniform way to offer meaningful disclosure for consumers who want more information about their food and avoid a patchwork system of state or private labels that could be confusing for consumers and would likely drive up food costs,” and is intended “to provide a mandatory uniform national standard for disclosure of information to consumers about the [bioengineered (BE)] status of foods.” Comments on the proposed rule must be received by July 3, 2018, and the announcement states that, due to the Congressionally mandated timeline for this rulemaking, the comment period will not be extended.
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
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On November 7, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a notice in the Federal Register (82 Fed. Reg. 51582) stating that it was withdrawing its January 19, 2017, proposed rule on the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms to “update the regulations in response to advances in genetic engineering and understanding of the plant pest and noxious weed risk posed by [GE] organisms, thereby reducing burden for regulated entities whose organisms pose no plant pest or noxious weed risks” (82 Fed. Reg. 7008). Citing comments on the proposed rule critical of the proposed revisions, USDA stated it is committed to “explor[ing] a full range of policy alternatives” instead, and that it will “re-engage with stakeholders to determine the most effective, science-based approach for regulating the products of modern biotechnology while protecting plant health.” More specific comments from USDA and the reasons supporting its decision are set forth in the notice.
While it appears that some in industry may welcome the withdrawal, most would agree that all stakeholders should work collaboratively and quickly to develop a new framework to speed the process to market, and to ensure the regulatory landscape is more efficient and clearer than it currently is. USDA and pertinent others should immediately begin another process to enable the regrouping to begin.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
By Kathleen M. Roberts
On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced that up to $9 million in funding will be available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) in fiscal year (FY) 2017. Projects funded by BRDI will focus on developing economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass, increasing the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products, and diversifying the nation’s energy portfolio. DOE and NIFA are soliciting applications from all interested parties, including for-profit entities, universities, nonprofits, and national laboratories, to address any or all of the following legislatively mandated technical areas:
- Feedstocks development;
- Biofuels and biobased products development; and
- Biofuels development analysis.
DOE anticipates funding one to six awards and NIFA anticipates funding three to 14 awards, with awards ranging from $500,000 to $2 million. Concept papers are due by July 7, 2017
, and full applications are due by September 22, 2017
. More information on BRDI is available on DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Exchange website
On May 23, 2017, EERE published in the Federal Register a solicitation for candidates to fill vacancies on the Biomass Research and Development (R&D) Technical Advisory Committee
. The committee meets quarterly to advise DOE and USDA points of contact on the Biomass R&D Initiative and priority technical biomass R&D needs, and to make written recommendations to the Biomass R&D Board, while aiming to not duplicate efforts of other federal advisory committees. Nominations are due to Dr. Mark Elless, the EERE Designated Federal Officer, by June 30, 2017
The next Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee meeting, which is open to the public, will take place June 15-16, 2017
) at least five business days prior to the meeting. Meeting minutes will be available for public review on the Biomass R&D website following the meeting. More information on the meeting is available in the Federal Register notice