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 August 15, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced approximately $40 million in funding for 29 projects to advance the H2@Scale concept.  H2@Scale is a concept that explores the potential for wide-scale hydrogen production and utilization in the United States to enable resiliency of the power generation and transmission sectors while also aligning diverse domestic industries, competitiveness, and job creation. Funded through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Nuclear Energy, the 29 selected projects will advance hydrogen storage and infrastructure technologies.

Tags: DOE, Hydrogen, EERE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On May 30, 2019, DOE also announced the release of GeoVision: Harnessing the Heat Beneath Our Feet, an analysis on how the U.S. can benefit from the potential of geothermal energy. The report summarizes findings that show geothermal electricity generation could increase more than 26-fold from today. Geothermal energy has the potential to reach 60 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity (a 6GW growth) by 2050, including the provision of heating and cooling solutions for residential and commercial consumers through direct-use and heat-pump technologies. U.S. Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, stated that “[m]aking geothermal more affordable can increase our energy options for a more diverse electricity generation mix […].” Industry experts, academia, DOE’s National Laboratories, and federal agencies assessed opportunities to expand geothermal energy deployment through 2050 via technology improvement, cost reduction, and reduction of project development barriers such as long permitting timelines. The GeoVision report also includes the analysis of economic benefits to the U.S. geothermal energy sector, and an investigation of opportunities for desalination, mineral recovery, and hybridization with other energy technologies for greater efficiencies and lower costs. Additionally, the report quantified potential environmental impacts of an increased deployment of geothermal energy. A roadmap of action items for stakeholders is also included, outlining three key objectives to:

  • Increase access to geothermal resources;
     
  • Reduce costs and improve economics for geothermal projects; and
     
  • Improve education.

These GeoVision objectives are to be met through four key Action Areas: (1) Research Related to Resource Assessments, Improved Site Characterization, and Key Technology Advancements; (2) Regulatory Process Optimization; (3) Maximizing the Full Value of Geothermal Energy; and, (4) Improved Stakeholder Collaboration. For further details, the full report can be accessed here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 3, 2019, DOE announced a joint Call for Proposals for an opportunity to win $2 million in available funding for the advancement of geothermal research and development (R&D) through a partnership with more than 12 European countries. DOE is a member of a transnational consortium called GEOTHERMICA, which combines financial resources and research expertise to demonstrate and validate new concepts in geothermal energy use. The U.S. geothermal community will have the ability to collaborate directly with European partners on shared research projects that leverage valuable data, field site access, and expertise in geothermal R&D. In addition to the U.S., Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey are members of GEOTHERMICA. Each participating country will fund applicants originating within its national boundary. U.S. funding will be provided through the DOE National Laboratories. The Call for Proposals can be accessed here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 17, 2019, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, Francois Villeroy de Galhau, Governor of the Banque de France, and Frank Edelson, Chair of the Network for Greening the Financial Services (NGFS), published an open letter on the financial implications of global warming.  Co-signed by the NGFS coalition, consisting of 34 central banks, the letter warns of global warming’s potential damage to infrastructure and private property, negative human health effects, decrease in productivity, and wealth destruction.  The letter states that no countries are immune to the effects of climate change and that “if some companies and industries fail to adjust to this new world, they will fail to exist.”  Although the Paris agreement has and continues to promote a low-carbon economy, further measures would be central to achieving zero net zero carbon emissions by 2050.  Key to reaching this goal would be a massive reallocation of capital, the financial experts highlight.
 
Given the challenges associated with achieving zero-carbon emissions, in the letter, Carney, Villeroy de Galhau, and NGFS members propose four recommendations to policymakers and financial firms:

  • The integration of climate-related financial risks into daily work, financial stability monitoring, and board risk management.  Policymakers and financial firms should conduct scenario analyses and take a long-term strategic approach, which considers risks associated with global warming.  These risks should be embedded it into their business-as-usual governance and risk-management frameworks.
  • Leadership by example, particularly by central banks, to integrate sustainability into their own portfolio management.
  • Internal and external collaboration among public authorities to bridge data gaps important to assessments of climate-related risks.
  • In-house capacity building and knowledge sharing with various stakeholders on the financial risks related to climate change.

According to the letter, the successful implementation of these four recommendations would lead to two broader calls for action on disclosure and classification of these risks.  Market and regulators’ support in assessing risks and opportunities from climate change accompanied by consistent international disclosure are critical.  In addition, NGFS members also encourage the development of a classification system to identify economic activities that would contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy.  In sum, robust leadership and collaboration play a crucial role in identifying global solutions for the financial sector.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 3, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced a request for comments on two documents related to the potential deregulation of a canola variety genetically engineered (GE) to convert oleic acid to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaeonic acid (EPA), as well as for resistance to an imidazolinone herbicide. The documents are a draft Environmental Assessment (dEA) and a draft Plant Pest Risk Assessment (dPPRA). While the dEA analyzes potential issues and environmental impacts, the dPPRA examines any plant pest risks. DHA and EPA are omega-3 fatty acids that support brain development and protect neurological function. The aforementioned GE canola accumulates higher concentrations of these fatty acids. Therefore, in a petition submitted by BASF Corporation (BASF), it stated that this canola provides a plant-based and scalable production system for omega 3-fatty acids that can be another source of EPA and DHA for consumers either as a food ingredient or as an aquaculture feed ingredient. Based on BASF’s statement and the draft documents, USDA will be accepting comments until May 6, 2019. APHIS intends to thoroughly review and consider the information provided in the completion of the final environmental documents and regulatory determinations.

Tags: USDA, APHIS, GE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 8, 2019, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., released a statement on the continued efforts to advance safe biotechnology innovations, and the deactivation of an import alert on genetically engineered (GE) salmon.  In his statement, Dr. Gottlieb emphasized FDA’s mission to evaluate the safety of intentional genomic alterations (IGA) in animals that will ultimately be sold for consumption in the U.S.  According to FDA’s recent framework for the efficient development of safe biotechnology products, Plant and Animal Biotechnology Innovation Action Plan, Dr. Gottlieb stated that FDA has taken important steps to help advance new products.
 
Part of these efforts includes FDA’s 2015 decision to approve an application related to GE salmon containing the first approved IGA in an animal meant for food consumption.  In 2016, however, the U.S. Congress directed FDA not to allow into commerce any food containing GE salmon until it issues final labeling guidelines for informing consumers of the GE salmon content in the food.  Consequently, in compliance with Congressional views, FDA implemented an import alert in that same year that prevented GE salmon from entering the U.S.  With the enactment of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) by Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was made responsible for the implementation of a mandatory standard for disclosing foods that are bioengineered.  FDA was, therefore, divested of its authority over labeling GE content in human foods.  Given the Congressional enactment of NBFDS, Dr. Gottlieb stated that FDA believes this Congressional mandate on GE salmon has been satisfied by USDA’s issuance of final regulations implementing NBFDS.  NBFDS requires that human food containing GE salmon be labelled to indicate that it is bioengineered.  Therefore, FDA has deactivated the import alert that prevented GE salmon from entering the U.S.

Tags: Salmon, FDA, GE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On, March 12, 2019, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the publication of two draft documents related to the potential deregulation of a soybean variety GE for increased yield and resistance to the herbicide glufosinate.  The draft documents are Draft Plant Pest Risk Assessment (PPRA) and Draft Environmental Assessment (dEA) for Petition to Deregulate GE Soybean for Increased Yield and Herbicide Resistance. The PPRA will examine any plant pest risks and the dEA will analyze the potential issues and environmental impacts.  The draft documents can be accessed here, and the official notice of the review period can be viewed in the March 13, 2019, Federal Register.  84 Fed. Reg. 9077.  Comments are due by April 12, 2019.

Tags: USDA, Soybean, GE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 17, 2019, DOE BETO announced that the deadline for submission to its Manufacturing Innovator Challenge has been extended to February 10, 2019.  As DOE seeks new concepts in biobased materials to address today’s manufacturing challenges, the Manufacturing Innovator Challenge is an effort to incentivize solutions that increase energy productivity and strengthen the U.S. industrial base.  Prizes are open for ideas focused on Biobased Additive Manufacturing (BAM) and will be distributed to three winners.  BAM involves the production of rapid prototyping of complex structures through biobased three-dimensional printing.  To qualify for the BAM prize, candidates are required to identify new materials that are made from at least 90 percent plant matter or algae, and that can meet or improve the performance of current three-dimensional printing materials.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 6, 2018, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) wrote a letter to President Donald Trump requesting that, in 2019, any infrastructure package to be considered include a focus on the clean energy economy to address climate change. Emphasizing that climate change is, in fact, real and caused by humans, Senator Schumer refers to the Administration’s recent National Climate Assessment report and the drastic need to reduce emissions. In the letter, Senator Schumer outlines a number of policies that must be included in an infrastructure package in the next Congress. Among these policies are the need to:

  • Invest in research, development, and deployment of clean energy, energy efficiency, carbon reduction, and energy storage technologies;
  • Provide permanent tax incentives and investments for domestic production of clean energy and renewable power; and
  • Invest in upgrades in clean energy for public schools, buildings, and other infrastructure.

Senator Schumer concludes his letter to President Trump highlighting that “[t]he challenge is immense, but so is the opportunity to revitalize and modernize our infrastructure, create new jobs and economic opportunities, and position the United States as a leader in clean energy innovation.”


 

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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