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 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. 


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On October 5, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the publication of its business environment outlook titled “Taking Action on Climate Change.”  The report provides an overview of key changes taking place in the energy, transport, and chemicals markets and of select drivers of such change.  The report highlights the role biofuels can play in reducing emissions from the road, aviation, and marine transport sectors.  Demand for renewable diesel is expected to double in North America, the Nordic countries, and Europe by 2021.  Additionally, renewable aviation fuels provide an important solution for an industry committed to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions despite an increasing demand for aviation fuel.
 
The report also suggests that rapidly increasing resource consumption and waste generation are the driving force behind the move towards a circular economy.  Neste expects the bioplastics market to grow by more than 40 percent by 2021, with 80 percent of the growth coming from durable biobased plastics.  To help decouple plastics from the consumption of fossil-based feedstocks, Neste is developing new business operations from bioplastics using its renewable products as the raw materials. 
 
By 2020, Neste aims to have renewable jet fuel, renewable chemicals, and biobased plastics account for 20 percent of its renewable business sales volume.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On September 20, 2017, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) published in the Federal Register a notice of the scheduling of the final phase of antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations of biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia.  ITC will hold a hearing in connection with the final phase of the investigations at 9:30 a.m. (EST) on November 9, 2017, in Washington, D.C.  Requests to appear at the hearing are due by November 2, 2017.  Stakeholders interested in participating as parties in the final phase of the investigations must file an entry of appearance with the Secretary to the Commission no later than 21 days prior to the hearing date.  The pre-hearing staff report will be filed in the nonpublic record on October 27, 2017, and a public record will be issued thereafter.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On August 29, 2017, the government of the province of Ontario, Canada announced $25.8 million has been allocated to the Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF) as a part of the province’s Climate Change Action Plan.  The funding will be used to support emerging, innovative technologies in areas such as alternative energy generation and conservation, new biofuels or bioproducts, next-generation transportation or novel carbon capture and usage technologies. 
 
Funding is available either from:

  • The Technology Demonstration stream, which aims to support the development and commercialization of innovative low carbon technologies through testing in real-world settings; or
  • The Technology Validation stream, which aims to fund proof-of-concept or prototype projects from eligible Ontario companies or academic organizations to help them get to market faster.
To be eligible for LCIF, projects must be conducted in Ontario and must show significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario.  Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan is key to its achievement of its goal of cutting greenhouse gas pollution to 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37 percent below by 2030, and 80 percent below by 2050.

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 28, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced in the Federal Register that a preliminary determination had been issued in the antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations on biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia.  DOC preliminarily determined that countervailable subsidies are being provided to producers and exporters of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia. The period of investigation for both countries is January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016. 
 
Pursuant to Section 703(e)(1) of the Tariff Act of 1930, DOC preliminarily determined that critical circumstances exist with respect to imports of biodiesel from Indonesia for Musim Mas and Wilmar Trading.  Similarly, DOC preliminary determined that critical circumstances exist with respect to imports of biodiesel from Argentina for LDC Argentina and Vicentin, but do not exist with respect to all other exporters or producers not individually examined.  DOC will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of entries of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption, and to require a cash deposit equal to the subsidy rates indicated in the respective Federal Register notice.  For Indonesian companies not individually examined, DOC applied an “all-others” subsidy rate, which was calculated by weight averaging the calculated subsidy rates of the two individually examined company respondents. 
 
More information on the methodology and results of DOC’s analysis is available in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, which is a public document on file in the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS).  DOC invites comments on the preliminary determinations from interested stakeholders.  Following DOC’s final determination, the International Trade Commission (ITC) will make its final determination within 45 days.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded researchers from Clemson University a $147,744, two-year grant to evaluate the effectiveness of producing biofuels to mitigate climate change.  The project will analyze how switchgrass fields and loblolly pine forests affect local temperatures through the exchange of water, energy, radiation, and carbon with the atmosphere; and quantify below- and above-ground carbon fluxes in both loblolly pine and switchgrass plantations and assess the greenhouse gas emissions of the full biofuel production chain for each crop.  The goal is to develop a comparative picture of the potential of these feedstocks to reduce carbon emissions when generating electricity by co-firing in a coal power plant, and ultimately to aid the development of effective land-use policies. 


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 15, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) International Trade Administration (ITA) announced in the Federal Register that the preliminary determination in the antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations on biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia will be postponed.  A request to postpone the determinations was submitted by a petitioner on July 6, 2017, and, pursuant to Section 733(c)(1)(A) of the Tariff Act of 1930, ITA determined that there was no compelling reason to deny the request.  The preliminary determination will now be due by October 19, 2017, and the final determination will be due within 75 days of the issuance of the preliminary determination. 
 
ITCA previously postponed the determinations following a May 22, 2017, request from a petitioner, as reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post DOC Postpones Preliminary Determinations for Biodiesel AD/CVD Investigation.


 
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