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.

On March 2, 2017, Congressmen Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA) reintroduced legislation to expand the current Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver to include E15 motor vehicle fuel.  The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act aims to foster the development of a robust energy marketplace by offering the same regulatory relief that has been extended to E10.  Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to control the volatility of gasoline between June 1 and September 15 to limit vehicle emissions.  Congress permitted a RVP waiver for E10 due to its reduced emissions.  EPA, however, has continuously refused to extend the waiver to E15 despite its lower volatility compared to E10.  The bipartisan legislation would remove the restriction on the sale of E15 during the summer months and allow the fuel to be sold year-round.

Tags: RVP, Biofuel, EPA, CAA

 

On March 6, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in the Federal Register that an information collection request (ICR) had been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding consultations on the Safer Choice logo redesign.  Following the launch of the new Safer Choice logo, EPA plans to conduct consumer surveys to gauge consumer recognition of the new logo and to determine whether the new logo and educational activities are changing purchasing decisions.  This ICR was previously published as part of a public review opportunity in the Federal Register on November 3, 2016, and did not receive any comments.  With this Notice, there will be an additional 30 days of review as comments are due by April 5, 2017.    


 
On February 17, 2017, several Republican Senators sent a letter to Scott Pruitt, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, to confirm their willingness to work with Pruitt to grow the nation’s economy and support American jobs and to request that Pruitt address EPA’s volatility regulation of ethanol fuel blends.  In the letter, the Senators describe the one pound per square inch (psi) waiver that allows gasoline blends containing ten percent ethanol (E10) to be sold during the summer months despite the gasoline volatility requirements in place from June 1 to September 15 under the Clean Air Act (CAA).  The letter requests that Pruitt extend the one psi waiver to higher ethanol blends since the volatility of such blends is lower than E10.  The Senators state that without a waiver, fuels, such as E15, are prohibited from use during the summer months, which discourages retailers from installing infrastructure to distribute fuel alternatives and increases costs for consumers.

 
On February 23, 2017, the Sierra Club filed a notice of intent to sue EPA for failure to conduct the required environmental impact analysis on the RFS program.  The notice states that EPA failed to assess and report to Congress on the environmental and resource conservation impacts of the RFS program and failed to complete the required anti-backsliding study to determine whether the renewable fuel volumes adversely impacted air quality.  According to the notice, EPA has issued only one triennial report on the environmental impact of the program despite the requirement under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) that EPA report to Congress every three years.  EISA also mandates that EPA complete an anti-backsliding study within 18 months of the law’s passage, which EPA has failed to conduct.  Although EPA has made commitments to complete the second triennial report by December 31, 2017, and the anti-backsliding study by September 30, 2024, the Sierra Club stated that such a delay disregards the purpose of the reporting requirements, which is to inform EPA’s annual RFS volume developments and inform Congress of the program’s impacts. 

 
On February 22, 2017, the American Petroleum Institute (API) announced plans to submit comments to EPA in support of its proposal to deny petitions requesting EPA initiate a rulemaking process to change the point of obligation for compliance under the RFS program.  During the press call, Frank Macchiarola, the Group Director of Downstream and Industry Operations at API, stated that changing the point of obligation would create significant uncertainty and complications in the RFS program and the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) market, and add time and an administrative burden for EPA and regulated entities.  Macchiarola suggested policymakers focus on fixing the blend wall problem and setting fuel policies consistent with vehicle compatibility.  API supports Congressional efforts to repeal or reform the RFS program and encourages lower volume requirements in 2018 to address the short-term challenges facing the refining industry.  Macchiarola stated that EPA should consider the adoption of cellulosic technologies, E15 and E85 use, and the demand for E0 when establishing 2018 RFS standards.
Tags: API, EPA, RFS

 

On February 13, 2017, seven democratic Senators sent a letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn requesting details on Carl Icahn’s role in the Trump Administration and the extent of his influence over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  On December 21, 2016, it was announced that Mr. Icahn would serve the Trump Administration as a special advisor for overhauling federal regulations.  The Senators’ letter highlights concerns over Icahn’s public statements regarding RFS obligations and his role as chairman of the board and majority shareholder of Icahn Enterprises.  The Senators noted that, as of September 30, 2016, Icahn Enterprises owned an 82 percent stake in CVR Energy, which is an oil refiner required to meet the RFS obligations.  The letter requests that McGahn provide answers to a number of questions regarding Icahn, including whether:
 

■  He is a federal employee;
 
■   He has access to confidential information;
 
■  He provided financial disclosures to the Administration;
 
■  He is barred from providing advice on any regulations;
 
■  He provided advice to President Trump on any Senate-confirmed or schedule C appointees;
 
■  The Administration believes he is subject to any laws or regulations governing conflicts of interest;
 
■  He has recused himself from any decisions or discussions that may present a conflict of interest; and
 
■  He is required to divest from any of his holdings.

 

On February 16, 2017, a coalition of Iowa farmers, renewable fuel producers, and retailers urged Scott Pruitt, just prior to his being confirmed as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by rejecting the petition to change the program’s point of obligation.  The coalition, which includes the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa (PMCI), and the Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB), stated that it is committed to opposing a change in the point of obligation since such a change would be devastating to wholesalers and retailers, who have invested in supporting the RFS program, and to consumers, who would experience a change in pricing dynamics at fuel terminals.  Agreeing with EPA’s decision under the Obama Administration, the coalition stated that changing the point of obligation 11 years into the program would create unnecessary chaos and delay.  A final decision will be made once EPA has reviewed the public comments on the issue.

Tags: Iowa, Biofuel, EPA, RFS

 
■  Biotechnology Innovation Organization, “BIO Submits Comments on EPA Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule
 
■  EPA, “Draft Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2015
 
■  International Energy Agency, “New Bioenergy Roadmap Guide Released Jointly by IEA and FAO

 

On January 31, 2017, two bills were introduced in the U.S. Congress that propose to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the national biofuels mandate.  The first bill would require the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to assess the performance, safety, and environmental impact of mid-level ethanol, and the implications of the use of mid-level ethanol blends compared to gasoline blends containing ten percent or less ethanol.  The second bill would reduce the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) cellulosic biofuel volume requirements under the RFS program to what is commercially available pending a NAS report on the environmental and economic impacts and feasibility of large scale production of cellulosic biofuel.


 

On January 24, 2017, the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) sent a letter to President Donald Trump to express its commitment to working with Trump and his administration and to outline its top priorities, including the continuation of EPA’s Safer Choice Program.  In the letter, CSPA states that companies have made significant financial and employee investments to develop products that qualify for the Safer Choice logo and to market the products as Safer Choice products.  CSPA requested that Trump support the voluntary program, arguing that elimination of it would negate the innovation that resulted from the costly efforts.  In addition to continuing the program, the letter suggests that EPA expand the Safer Choice Program to include antimicrobial products that meet the criteria as long as they are not specifically prohibited from using the logo under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).


 
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