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 August 29, 2016, the Energy Regulatory Commission of Mexico (CRE) published fuel regulation NOM-016-CRE-2016 in the Mexican Federal Register. This fuel standard allows for the blending and sale of up to 5.8 percent ethanol in the nation's fuel supply outside of Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey. These new regulations will go into effect 60 days after publication of the bill, marking the first ethanol mandate to impact rural areas of Mexico. Guadalajara currently has a 2 percent ethanol blend mandate that is eventually expected to expand to Mexico City and Monterrey.


 

On August, 24, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service released an annual report on the Philippines' biofuel industry and ethanol imports. In January 2007, The Biofuels Act or Republic Act (RA 9367) was signed, creating biofuels legislation in the Philippines that now mandate a ten percent ethanol blend and a two percent biodiesel blend. While the Biofuels Act gives priority to local ethanol, supply issues with local ethanol production have resulted in the ethanol blend mandate historically being met with imports. The USDA report expects local ethanol production to increase through 2017, reducing the need for imports from 311 million liters (MLi) in 2015, to 281 MLi in 2016, and 278 MLi in 2017.


 

On August 24, 2016, Brazil's government announced that it would not be extending a tax break on ethanol sales that is due to expire in December 2016. During the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, Brazil pledged to increase cane-based ethanol and biodiesel to nearly 18 percent of its total energy mix by 2030, requiring an increase in annual ethanol production from 30 billion liters in 2015/2016 to 50 billion liters in 2030. The loss of the ethanol tax break prevents biofuel from being cost competitive with gasoline, and will severely impede the ability of ethanol and biodiesel to make up a larger percentage of Brazil's energy mix. Elizabeth Farina, head of the cane industry association Unica, stated that this change will push cane mills to switch from biofuel to sugar production. Two days after the announcement that Brazil would not be renewing the ethanol tax break, Brokers INTL FCStone predicted that the top cane growing region of Brazil would produce 4.7 percent less ethanol in the 2016/2017 crop than it did in 2015/2016.


 

 

On August 10, 2016, Red Trail Energy, LLC, a North Dakota ethanol producer, announced that it, along with the Energy & Environmental Research Center, had been awarded $490,000 to examine the integration of carbon capture and storage (CCS). The study will consist of installing and operating a commercial CCS system in a facility producing approximately 63 million gallons of ethanol and 180,000 tons of CO2, and tracking the technical and economic parameters required. The total project is expected to cost $980,000. "North Dakota ethanol producers are well-situated to take advantage of these low-carbon fuel incentives because there is significant production capacity and ideal geology for carbon storage," said project manager Kerryanne Leroux, EERC Senior Chemical Engineer, Oilfield Operations Team Lead. Further, "[t]he study will provide local ethanol producers a detailed assessment of the commercial feasibility of utilizing CCS technology within their production operations." The project will also provide a template for implementation of CCS technology statewide, promoting renewable energy production in North Dakota.


 

On May 23, 2016, USDA announced that a team of U.S. ethanol industry leaders would travel to Mexico with Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse to explore opportunities to expand the United States' and Mexico's renewable energy industries. The trip occurred on May 24-25, 2016, with mission participants sharing their experiences with ethanol production and developing renewable fuel policies. The goal of the trip was to demonstrate how Mexico can implement its own renewable fuels program by taking advantage of Mexican grown sugarcane. Supporting the development of a Mexican ethanol industry will provide mutual benefits to citizens from both Mexico and the U.S., through access to an increased quantity of inexpensive renewable energy that reduces dependence on foreign oil.


 

On April 27, 2016, the Iowa Senate voted 49-0 to extend the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (RFIP) through June 30, 2017. The legislation, House File 2464, was passed by the Iowa House 94-0 and provides funding for cost-share grants to upgrade fueling infrastructure. RFIP covers up to 70 percent of the installation cost of E15, E85, or biodiesel blend fuel pumps for Iowa retailers, up to $50,000 per project. "While we were hopeful for a long-term funding solution for the state's renewable fuels infrastructure program, we're very pleased today that the Iowa legislature was able to keep this vital initiative going for another year," stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Policy Director Grant Menke. "The [U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA)] Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership re-energized many Iowa retailers, leading to record participation in the blender pump program over the past year. This one-year funding extension allows us to build upon this momentum and ensure Iowans have greater access to cleaner-burning, lower-cost renewable fuels." The current source of RFIP funding is ending after this extension, so there is still need for a long-term solution to helping retailers supply more renewable fuels and higher ethanol blends to consumers.


 

On April 8, 2016, Reuters reported that Argentina is planning on increasing the required percentage of ethanol in gasoline from 12 percent to 26 percent. Specific targets have not yet been created for increasing the required ethanol blend, but Argentina has been increasing the required ethanol percentage to reduce energy deficits and boost its economy. Argentina first created an ethanol mandate at five percent in 2010, and has increased the percentage incrementally since then. The increase of 14 percent, from 12 percent to 26 percent, is expected to result in $400 million in investments, and is also expected to streamline automaker operations, as many cars are produced for both the Argentinian and Brazilian markets.


 

On February 16, 2016, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded to two recent reports on ethanol and renewable fuels. The first report was published by USDA and is on "2015 Energy Balance for the Corn-Ethanol Industry," and the second report comes from the University of Missouri Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) and is a "Literature Review of Estimated Market Effects of U.S. Corn Starch Ethanol." Both studies demonstrate the growth of the United States' renewable energy industry with improved ethanol and biodiesel production resulting in doubled renewable energy production and a reduction in foreign oil imports. The energy used to produce corn has fallen as well, which has made the production of ethanol more efficient so that "more energy is being produced from ethanol than is used to produce it, by factors of 2 to 1 nationally and by factors of 4 to 1 in the Midwest." Both studies point towards a solid future of growth and innovation for the U.S. renewable energy industry.


 

On January 14, 2016, a report titled "Biobased Chemicals: The Iowa Opportunity" was released by Iowa's Cultivation Corridor and the Iowa Biotechnology Association at the Iowa Statehouse. This report is based on research by Iowa State University professors and outlines opportunities for Iowa to capitalize on bioprocessing developments in the United States. While Iowa has the advantage of a strong biofuel industry, there is still a need for the Iowa legislature to address the needs of the bio renewables industry beyond ethanol production to take full advantage of the $250 billion domestic chemical market.


 
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