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 April 20, 2018, the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute (GCI) announced the opening of the 2018 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.  The announcement states that EPA “supports the continuation of the awards program for 2018 under the sponsorship of the ACS GCI,” and “[t]o ensure continuity, the awards categories and guidelines are remaining the same, only the timing of the awards cycle is changing, and the ACS GCI will be managing the awards program and making final decisions about award winners.”  The award guidelines and nomination package will be posted on the ACS GCI website by April 30, 2018; Submissions will be accepted from April 30, 2018, through July 2, 2018; award winners will be notified no later than August 31, 2018; and the awards ceremony will be held in Washington, D.C. in October 2018.
 
More information is available in our memorandum “ACS GCI Announces Opening of 2018 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards; EPA Announces Opening of 2018 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 3, 2018, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) announced that companies from Argentina and Indonesia will face new anti-dumping duties after findings by the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) that imports of biodiesel at less than fair value materially injured the U.S. biodiesel industry. Commerce determined that the Argentinian and Indonesian imports were sold in the U.S. at dumping margins of up to 86.41 percent and 276.65 percent, respectively. A full report containing the views of USITC and information developed during the investigations will be available by May 7, 2018, and will be accessible via the USITC website.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On February 12, 2018, Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) announced a strategic partnership with Versalis, a producer of polymers and elastomers, to develop a comprehensive technology package to commercialize guayule in the agricultural, sustainable-rubber, and renewable-chemical sectors.  Through the agreement, Bridgestone and Versalis will develop proprietary, highly productive varieties of guayule using the latest genetic technologies to position guayule as an attractive and profitable crop for independent growers.  The process technologies will be optimized at the Bridgestone Biorubber Process Research Center (BPRC) in Mesa, Arizona.  Versalis will lead the product development activities to monetize the guayule rubber production.  The technology developed through the partnership is intended to be made available to industrial partners willing to cooperate in maximizing the value of these innovative products.  According to Nizar Trigui, Chief Technology Officer at Bridgestone, the collaboration supports Bridgestone’s goal of developing new, domestic, and sustainable sources for natural rubber and of manufacturing products from raw materials that are fully renewable and sustainable by 2050.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On January 31, 2018, the European Commission (EC) launched a new investigation into subsidized imports of biodiesel from Argentina.  The investigation was initiated based on a complaint filed by the European Biodiesel Board (EBB) on behalf of producers representing over 25 percent of the European Union (EU) biodiesel production.  The EC determined that the complaint includes sufficient evidence that the Argentinean biodiesel producers have benefitted from a number of subsidies granted by the Government of Argentina.  The investigation provides another means for imposing tariffs on biodiesel imported from Argentina following successful challenges to the anti-dumping (AD) duties set in 2013.  In September 2017, the EU reduced the AD duties for Argentinean biodiesel to between 4.5 and 8.1 percent, from initial rates of 22-25.7 percent.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 4, 2018, the International Trade Administration (ITA) issued in the Federal Register a notice of the countervailing duty (CVD) orders on biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia based on the affirmative final determinations by the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the International Trade Commission (ITC).  As reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post ITC Issues Final Determinations On Biodiesel From Argentina And Indonesia, after DOC issued its final affirmative determination on November 16, 2017, ITC filed its final determination on December 21, 2017, stating that an industry in the United States is materially injured by subsidized imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia.  According to the notice, unliquidated entries of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, entered or withdrawn from a warehouse for consumption on or after August 28, 2017, are subject to the assessment of CVD.  DOC will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assess the CVD for the subject merchandise equal to the net countervailable subsidy rates established in the notice.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On November 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) issued a statement soliciting applications for its Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program.  The program aims to support the generation of new information that will assist federal regulatory agencies in making science-based decisions about the effects of introducing genetically engineered (GE) organisms, including microorganisms, into the environment.  Exploratory research that relates specifically to federal regulatory needs is preferred. USDA anticipates approximately $3.5 million in funding will be available for 2018 grants.  Applicants must submit a letter of intent by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on December 21, 2017.  Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on February 22, 2018.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

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 announcing that it was withdrawing its proposed rule that would have revised the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms.  The proposed rule, which was issued on January 19, 2017, aimed 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.”  After reviewing public comments on the proposed rule, USDA decided to re-engage with stakeholders and explore alternative policy approaches.  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 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. 


 

 
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