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 Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 22, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice of a proposed partial consent decree in Sierra Club v. Pruitt.  This notice is in response to a complaint filed by the Sierra Club in October 2017 to the District of Columbia Court.  The complaint alleged that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “failed to perform a non-discretionary duty to assess and report to Congress on the environmental and resource conservation impacts of the Energy Independence Security Act’s (EISA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.”  The complaint also alleged that Pruitt failed to complete the required anti-backsliding study to determine if RFS program fuels adversely impact air quality.  Concerned about Pruitt’s failure to promulgate fuel regulations to prevent potential adverse impacts, the Sierra Club also criticized the former Administrator’s determination that such regulatory measures were even necessary.
 
In response to these complaints, EPA is now proposing a partial consent decree which would establish a deadline for anti-backsliding studies.  EPA is now accepting written comments on the proposed partial consent decree, which must be submitted by March 25, 2019.

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 12, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its draft Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2017 (Emissions Inventory) for public review. EPA is requesting recommendations on how to improve the overall quality of the Emissions Inventory, which is expected to be issued in final in April 2019. The Emissions Inventory tracks U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks by man-made source and economic sector since 1990. Once it is prepared in final, the Emissions Inventory will then be submitted to the United Nations in accordance with the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The deadline for comment submission is March 14, 2019; the full Emissions Inventory can be accessed here. In addition, EPA has also developed an interactive tool for interested parties to access the data from the national greenhouse gas inventory. Users can create customized graphs, download data, and analyze trends over time. Once the Emissions Inventory is published in April, the national greenhouse gas inventory will be updated accordingly.

Tags: EPA, GHG

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 21, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in the Federal Register that the Syracuse Research Corporation (SRC) will be assisting the EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) in the creation of a database that will cover key data from past biotechnology submissions, and the creation of a biotechnology literature database with documents provided or referenced in Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) biotechnology submissions. The databases may include Confidential Business Information (CBI) and SRC will be given access to information submitted to EPA under all sections of TSCA. Under this contract, EPA may provide SRC access to CBI materials on a need-to-know basis only. All access to CBI will take place at EPA Headquarters and SRC sites in Arlington, Virginia, and Syracuse, New York, in accordance with EPA’s TSCA CBI Protection Manual. The contract will be effective until April 2, 2022, unless it is extended. SRC personnel will be required to sign nondisclosure agreements and will be briefed on security procedures prior to gaining access to CBI.

Tags: EPA, TSCA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 21, 2018, EPA announced the call for nominations for the 2019 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards (GCCA). A national award to honor entities that have developed new processes or products using green chemistry approaches, the award focuses on approaches that assist in the protection of public health and the environment. Nominations for the awards include five innovation categories and are due by January 15, 2019. The five categories are: small business, greener synthetic pathways, design of greener chemicals, academic, and greener reaction conditions. Interested parties should read the GCCA Nomination Package for the awards prior to the submission of a nomination. The 2019 GCCA ceremony and reception for the winners will be held on June 10, 2019, in Washington, D.C.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 30, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final renewable fuels volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2019 and the biomass-based diesel volumes for 2020.  The final rule establishes that the 15-billion gallon targets originally set by Congress for 2019 will be maintained and primarily met by corn ethanol.  Additionally, in 2019, advanced biofuel volumes will increase by 630 million gallons and cellulosic biofuel volumes by 130 million gallons over the 2018 standard.  The biomass-based diesel volumes for 2020 will increase by 330 million gallons over the 2019 standard of 2.1 billion gallons.

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 4, 2018, EPA announced that it is accepting nominations for the 2019 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.  Sponsored by EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) in partnership with the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (ACSGCI), these awards promote the development and use of novel green chemistry for environmental and economic benefits.  There are five award categories for which eligible candidates can be nominated:

  • Greener Synthetic Pathways (Focus Area 1);
  • Greener Reaction Condition (Focus Area 2);
  • The Design of Greener Chemicals (Focus Area 3);
  • Small Business; and
  • Academic.

Eligibility for nominations requires that candidates’ technology meets the following criteria:  (1) it must be a green chemistry technology with a significant chemistry component; (2) it must include source reduction; (3) it must be submitted by an eligible organization or its representatives; (4) it must have a significant milestone in its development within the past five years; (5) it must have a significant U.S. component; and (6) it must fit within at least one of the three focus areas of the program.  The deadline for nominations is January 15, 2019, to be presented in the summer of 2019.  Self-nominations are allowed, there is no entry fee or standard form, and one can nominate more than one technology.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 13, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the submission for review of an information collection request (ICR) on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  83 Fed. Reg. 56319.  The Federal Register notice states that purpose of this submission is to obtain OMB approval of an ICR that consolidates some existing collections.  By consolidating the existing collections and recordkeeping updates, EPA is aiming to create a new, consistent, and easily understandable format to report burden and cost estimates related to the RFS program.  Additionally, the ICR requests approval of updates to the recordkeeping and reporting burden along with cost estimated in December 2017.  EPA requested comments on this ICR for a 60-day period.  The November 13, 2018, notice extends the request for public comments by an additional 30 days.  Additional comments may be submitted on or before December 13, 2018.  The estimated burden approximates 566,665 hours per year, with a total estimated cost of $57,457,330 per year.  The cost estimate includes $0 of annualized capital or operation and maintenance costs.

Tags: EPA, RFS, OMB, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 30, 2018, Earthjustice and the Clean Air Task Force submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a petition “to amend its ‘aggregate compliance’ approach to the definition of biomass under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) … to prevent the conversion of native grasslands.”  The petition was filed on behalf of 11 organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club, and urges EPA’s Administrator Andrew Wheeler to amend regulations related to land permissibility for renewable biomass production.  Under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act’s (EISA) RFS, land conversion for the production of renewable fuel sources is restricted to agricultural land cultivated prior to the enactment of the ruling that is nonforested or uncultivated.  Meant to ensure that growing renewable fuel sources would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, the petition claims that these requirements are not being implemented by EPA due to an aggregate compliance system for measuring land use.  Instead, green groups are requesting that EPA use an individualized compliance approach in evaluating biofuel producers to assure compliance with EISA’s land use restrictions.  The petition also requests that EPA require additional “proof that only EISA-compliant land is used to grow crops displaced by renewable biomass production.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 17, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final fees rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in the Federal Register.  83 Fed. Reg. 52694.  The final rule largely tracks the proposed rule.  EPA is establishing fees applicable to any person required to submit information to EPA; or a notice, including an exemption or other information, to be reviewed by EPA; or who manufactures (including imports) a chemical substance that is the subject of a risk evaluation.  This final rulemaking describes the final TSCA fees and fee categories for fiscal years 2019, 2020, and 2021, and explains the methodology by which the final TSCA fees were determined.  It identifies some factors and considerations for determining fees for subsequent fiscal years; and includes amendments to existing fee regulations governing the review of premanufacture notices, exemption applications and notices, and significant new use notices. As required in TSCA, EPA is also establishing standards for determining which persons qualify as “small business concerns” and thus would be subject to lower fee payments.  Small businesses will be eligible to receive a substantial discount of approximately 80 percent on their fees.  EPA has been hosting a series of webinars focusing on making TSCA submissions and paying fees under the final rule.  The first webinar was held on October 10, 2018, and the second was held on October 24, 2018. The third webinar will be held on November 7, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (EST).  The final rule became effective on October 18, 2018. For an overview of the rule, see Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s regulatory developments update.
Tags: EPA, TSCA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 16, 2018, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs released the Trump Administration’s Fall 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Agenda). The Agenda aims to report on actions that administrative agencies, such as EPA, plan to put forward in the near- and long-terms. As its name implies, the Agenda includes both regulatory and deregulatory actions and attempts to justify any burden associated with these actions. According to its announcement, it should reflect four broad regulatory reform priorities: advancing regulatory reform, public notice of regulatory development, transparency, and consistent practice across the Federal Government.
 
Included in the Agenda are the Administration’s estimated timelines for the rulemakings on year-round sales of 15 percent ethanol (E15) sales and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) resetting renewable volume obligations (RVO). It is expected that EPA will release a proposed rule on permitting E15 sales year-round in February 2019, with a final rulemaking expected in May 2019. While the final rulemaking on RFS Biomass-Based Diesel (BBD) volume is expected to be announced in November 2018, the rulemaking on the RFS modification of applicable volumes is predicted to be announced in 2019. According to the Agenda, the proposed rule will be announced in January 2019 and the final rule should follow in December 2019.

Tags: EPA, TSCA, Agenda

 
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