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.

Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) and Alberta Innovates are hosting SPARK 2017 to support game-changing solutions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and advance the bioindustrial sector.  The conference will take place November 6-8, 2017, in Edmonton, Canada.  SPARK 2017 aims to inspire, motivate, and support researchers and innovators by connecting them with others working to advance innovative technology across four key areas, including:

  • Bioindustrial Development and Biological GHG Emissions;
  • Industrial Processes and Energy Efficiency;
  • Reducing GHG Footprint from Fossil Fuels; and
  • Low-emitting Electricity Supply.
Abstract submissions are due by June 19, 2017.

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) and Alberta Innovates are hosting SPARK 2017 to support game-changing solutions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and advance the bioindustrial sector.  The conference will take place November 6-8, 2017, in Edmonton, Canada.  SPARK 2017 aims to inspire, motivate, and support researchers and innovators by connecting them with others working to advance innovative technology across four key areas, including:

  • Bioindustrial Development and Biological GHG Emissions;
  • Industrial Processes and Energy Efficiency;
  • Reducing GHG Footprint from Fossil Fuels; and
  • Low-emitting Electricity Supply. 

Abstract submissions are due by June 19, 2017.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On April 25, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service published in the Federal Register a notice that it is requesting approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of a revision to a currently approved information collection for the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which provides funding to eligible advanced biofuel producers to support the production of biofuel products.  The Rural Business-Cooperative Service is specifically seeking comments on the following topics:

  • Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;
  • The accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.                          
Comments on this notice, which are due by June 26, 2017, will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. 

 

 

On February 21, 2017, USDA announced in the Federal Register that the comment period for the Designation of Product Categories for Federal Procurement proposed rule had been extended.  The proposed rule aims to amend the Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement to add 12 product categories composed of intermediate ingredient and feedstock materials and to propose a minimum biobased content for each category.  In addition to the product categories and biobased content, USDA is seeking comments on appropriate performance standards for each product category, the positive environmental and human health attributes of biobased products within the proposed categories, and how small businesses may be affected by the proposed rule.  Comments are now due by April 13, 2017.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On January 4, 2017, the White House announced the release of the 2017 Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology (2017 Update).  The Update to the Coordinated Framework provides a comprehensive summary of the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with respect to regulating biotechnology products.  Together with the National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products, published in September 2016, the Update to the Coordinated Framework offers a “complete picture of a robust and flexible regulatory structure that provides appropriate oversight for all products of modern biotechnology.”  Within that regulatory structure, the federal agencies “maintain high standards that, based on the best available science, protect health and the environment, while also establishing transparent, coordinated, predictable and efficient regulatory practices.”  To help product developers and the public understand what the regulatory pathway for products might look like, the 2017 Update presents information about agency roles and responsibilities in several forms, including:

  • Graphics that illustrate agency-specific overviews of regulatory roles;
  • Case studies that demonstrate how a product developer might navigate the regulatory framework; and
  • A comprehensive table that summarizes the current responsibilities and the relevant coordination across EPA, FDA, and USDA for the regulatory oversight of an array of biotechnology product areas.

In its blog item, “Increasing the Transparency, Coordination, and Predictability of the Biotechnology Regulatory System,” the Obama Administration acknowledges that while the 2017 Update represents “remarkable progress by the EPA, FDA, and USDA to modernize the regulatory system for biotechnology products, much work remains.”  EPA, FDA, and USDA will consider the comments submitted in response to the proposed 2017 Update and information gathered during the three public engagement sessions hosted by EPA, FDA, and USDA to inform ongoing and future agency activities.  In addition, the agencies commissioned an independent study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on future biotechnology products.  When completed, the agencies will consider the study’s findings, as well as the comments.  More information on the Update to the Coordinated Framework will be available in our forthcoming memorandum, which will be available on our website under the key phrase biobased products, biotechnology.


 

On November 16, 2016, the White House filed the Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change under the Paris climate deal. The strategy highlights the role that U.S. government-funded research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) had on the technological advances of the last century, and the potential to increase the pace and reduce the costs of decarbonization using the full power of U.S. RD&D efforts focused on clean energy technologies.
 
The strategy states that potentially high impact technologies in early stages of development or commercial deployment, such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), advanced nuclear, and second generation biofuels, can benefit from support programs that drive cost reductions through learning and economies-of-scale. The strategy also states that the cost of decarbonization can likely be lowered by public and private RD&D that covers a wide range of technologies as it is unclear how the technologies will progress over time. 

Regarding biofuels, the strategy identified opportunities for RD&D investments to:


 
Reduce biofuel production costs;
 

 
Improve production efficiency;
 

 
Develop “drop-in” fuels that require no changes to existing fuel infrastructure;
 


 
Co-optimize engines with low-carbon fuel to maximize performance and greenhouse gas reductions; and
 
Ensure biomass production and use methods are carbon beneficial.

 

On June 15, 2016, H.R. 5489, Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act of 2016, was introduced to the House Ways and Means Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The bill would add additional biogas applications to the list of technologies that qualify for the federal Section 45 energy investment tax credit, increasing acceptable biogas technologies from only biogas-based electricity projects to "qualified biogas property" defined as:

property comprising a system which--
 
(i) uses anaerobic digesters, or other biological, chemical, thermal, or mechanical processes (alone or in combination), to convert biomass (as defined in section 45K(c)(3)) into a gas which consists of not less than 52 percent methane, and
 
(ii) captures such gas for use as a fuel.

Qualified biogas properties, as well as qualified manure resource recovery properties, will be eligible for a 30 percent tax credit under this bill. H.R. 5489 was introduced with bipartisan support by Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY) and Ron Kind (D-WI), and signed by 12 other House members. A similar bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate,


 

On May 24, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2576, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the long-awaited Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Reform. Senate approval is expected, with the bill being signed into law soon after. The current, and likely final, version of the bill does not contain the sustainable chemistry provision in Section 27 entitled "Development and Evaluation of Test Methods and Sustainable Chemistry" that was in earlier versions of the bill. This provision would have provided funding, research, and support of green chemistry issues through the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Renewable chemicals will face the same changes as traditional chemicals, which are covered in detail on Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.'s (B&C®) TSCA Reform News & Information web page.

Chemical Watch is presenting a free webinar on the regulatory changes resulting from TSCA Reform, entitled "'The New TSCA' - What You Need to Know." B&C's Lynn L. Bergeson is participating on the expert panel, along with James V. Aidala, B&C, Charles M. Auer from Charles Auer & Associates LLC, and Richard A. Denison from the Environmental Defense Fund. The webinar will take place on June 13, 2016, at 11:00 a.m. (EDT), 8:00 a.m. (PDT), and 4:00 p.m. (BST)..


 

 
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