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

Researchers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and Sapphire Energy completed the first EPA-sanctioned outdoor field trial for GE algae, which was focused on understanding how GE algae perform in outdoor cultivation.  The 50-day experiment studied algae (Acutodesmus dimorphus) that was GE with genes for enhanced fatty acid biosynthesis and recombinant green fluorescence protein (GFP) expression under real world conditions in parallel with non-GE algae strains.  The results demonstrate that GE algae can be cultivated outdoors while maintaining the GE traits, and that the specific GE algae investigated does not adversely impact native algae populations.  According to the researchers, the study provides a framework to evaluate GE algae risks associated with outdoor GE algae production, which offers the promise of producing sustainable food, fuel, and other valuable products.

Tags: UCSD, GE, Algae

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On May 18, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the dates it would be hosting three public meetings to provide the public with an opportunity to offer comments on the proposed revisions to its regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms.  82 Fed. Reg. 22802.  USDA has stated that it is updating its regulations “in response to advances in genetic engineering and [its] accumulated experience in implementing the current regulations, as well as [to] reduce the burden on regulated entities.”  The dates and locations for the public meetings are:

  • June 6, 2017, at the APHIS Center for Animal Welfare in Kansas City, Missouri;
  • June 13, 2017, at the University of California, Davis Conference Center, Davis, California; and
  • June 16, 2017, at the USDA Center at Riverside, Riverdale, Maryland. 

APHIS will be accepting comments on the proposed revisions until June 19, 2017, in Docket ID No. APHIS-2015-0057-0001Registration is available online.  The meetings will be webcast for those unable to attend in person.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 13, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced that it was formally initiating antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations of biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia.  The decision follows a petition filed by the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition, as reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post “National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition Files Antidumping, Countervailing Duty Petition.”  The National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel producers also provided testimony to the International Trade Commission (ITC) on April 13, 2017, explaining that Argentine and Indonesian companies are violating trade laws by flooding the U.S. market with dumped and subsidized biodiesel, and how those imports are injuring American manufacturers and workers. 
 
The investigation covers biodiesel in pure form, mixtures containing at least 99 percent biodiesel by volume, and the biodiesel component of mixtures containing less than 99 percent biodiesel.  ITC will issue its preliminary injury determinations by May 8, 2017.  If ITC determines that imports of biodiesel from Argentina and/or Indonesia materially injure or threaten material injury to the domestic industry, the investigation will continue and DOC will announce its preliminary CVD and AD determinations in the summer of 2017.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On March 29, 2017, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the commencement of the preliminary phase of a biodiesel antidumping and countervailing duty investigation into Argentina and Indonesia.  ITC must make a preliminary determination within 45 days regarding whether there is a reasonable indication that the U.S. biodiesel industry is materially injured or threatened with material injury by imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia.  ITC has scheduled a conference on the investigation for April 13, 2017.  Stakeholders that wish to appear at the conference must e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on or before April 11, 2017.   Written submissions containing information and arguments regarding the investigation will be accepted on or before April 18, 2017.  The investigation is in response to a petition filed by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Fair Trade Coalition on March 23, 2017.  More information on NBB’s petition is available in the BRAG blog post “National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition Files Antidumping, Countervailing Duty Petition.”


 

On March 23, 2017, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) announced that an antidumping and countervailing duty petition had been filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) claiming that Argentine and Indonesian companies are violating trade laws by saturating the U.S. market with dumped and subsidized biodiesel.  The petition was filed on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition, which represents the NBB and U.S. biodiesel producers.  According to NBB, Argentine and Indonesian producers are selling their biodiesel in the U.S. at prices that are substantially lower than their costs of production, and government programs in both countries are providing illegal subsidies to their domestic biodiesel industries.  Between 2014 and 2016, biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia increased by 464 percent, which resulted in an 18 percent loss in market share for U.S. manufacturers.  Both countries have previously been charged with violating international trade laws.  Following NBB’s announcement, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released a statement urging DOC and ITC to give the suit every appropriate consideration and pledging to continue to work across the aisle to reform the biodiesel tax credit, so that it incentivizes the domestic production of clean, renewable biodiesel.


 

On March 24, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG®, announced its approval of draft proposals by the Swedish government regarding mandated reductions in traffic fuel emissions and the continued tax exemption for high-blended biofuels.  By 2030, the government aims to reduce carbon emissions from transportation by 70 percent.  In addition to reducing carbon emissions, the ambitious targets and long-term perspective will help support innovation and investments in biofuels.  Neste, which has a strong focus on developing cost-efficient technologies to convert forest residues into biofuels, stated that the substantial amount of forest-based raw materials in the country will likely play a key role in achieving the proposed goals.


 

 

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 November 3, 2016, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released the seventh UNEP Environment Emissions Gap Report, presenting a scientific assessment of global progress towards emissions reductions created by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  The report found that if all Paris Agreement pledges to reduce emissions global temperature are achieved, global temperatures will still rise to more than 2°C over preindustrial levels.  UNEP chief Erik Solheim stated that we need to move faster to mitigate our impact on climate change, with the report calling for strong clean energy and emissions reducing policies before the 2020 tipping point when the warming trajectory will become more difficult to reverse.  The report identifies carbon capture and storage coupled with the use of bio-energy as a key factor to limit warming, but mentions the need to produce sufficient quantities of biomass without harming biodiversity.


 

 
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