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 and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

This June, the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis released a report titled “Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America.” Providing a road map for Congress to follow, the action plan has three main goals:

  • Reaching 100 percent clean, net zero emissions economy-wide in the U.S. by 2050;
     
  • Establishing ambitious interim targets to assess progress and reduce pollution in environmental justice communities; and
     
  • Achieving net-negative emissions during the second half of the century.

The action plan consists of a comprehensive set of policy recommendations for Congressional action aggressively to reduce carbon pollution as quickly as possible while making communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change and building a clean energy economy. Successfully implemented, the Select Committee’s action plan would at minimum:

  • Reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions before 2050;
  • Reduce net U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 37 percent below 2010 levels in 2030 and 88 percent below 2010 levels in 2050;
  • Avoid 62,000 premature deaths annually by 2050; and
  • Provide almost $8 trillion in cumulative climate and health benefits through 2050.

The Climate Crisis Action Plan calls on Congress not only to grow the U.S. economy and put Americans to work in clean energy jobs, but also to protect family health, protect U.S. land and waters for the next generation, and ensure that communities and farmers can withstand climate change impacts. The full report is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 4, 2020, USDA announced that it is now accepting comments on its technical guidelines and science-based methods to quantify greenhouse gas (GHG) sources and sinks from the agriculture and forest sectors at the entity-scale. USDA intends to update the technical guidelines based on newly available data and methodologies within the next three years. Interested parties must submit comments on or prior to April 20, 2020.

Tags: USDA, GHG

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Green Building Council Massachusetts (USGBC) recently published its 2019 Report titled Zero Energy Buildings in Massachusetts: Saving Money from the Start. The report assesses zero energy (ZE) upfront building costs, model performance, and life-cycle costs in Massachusetts (MA). Local MA leaders have been working to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce energy use in the built environment. This work has been done by retrofitting existing buildings and constructing new buildings to achieve ZE standards. Although many stakeholders and decision-makers cite high costs as the primary barrier for ZE buildings, USGBC reports that many types of ZE buildings can be constructed without an upfront cost. Also according to the report, some commercial buildings may even see return on investment in as little as one year. Key findings and policy recommendations are outlined, accompanied by examples that can be used as a template to overcome the ZE building barriers often encountered. The full report can be accessed here.


 

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

On September 17, 2019, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) chaired a hearing to discuss the use and sourcing of minerals needed for clean energy technologies. Highlighting the fact that renewable technologies such as batteries and wind turbines are built from minerals, Senator Murkowski stated that “[t]he United States is capable of being a leader in the development of the minerals needed for clean energy technologies.” As Chairman for the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, she further argued that for this to be achieved, the production, manufacturing, and recycling of minerals must expand to rebuild a robust domestic supply chain. In her opening statement, Senator Murkowski announced the release of a report by the Congressional Research Service. The report summarizes analyses of the quantity of materials needed to meet renewable and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission goals. The report includes an analysis of a World Bank Group (WB) study, which forecasts that demand for certain minerals will increase under an aggressive scenario to limit warming. The other two analyses in the report consist of DOE critical mineral demand projections and a gross domestic product (GDP) electricity demand study by Halada et al.

Tags: GHG, Report

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

This month, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, published its 2019 Sustainability Report titled The Future Is Clean. In its 2019 report, ACI outlines its sustainability goals, which include increased transparency, the reduction of GHG emissions, and the move toward a circular global economy. As part of its activities to achieve such goals, ACI has worked on filling knowledge gaps, harnessing power in the power of convening, uniting for a cleaner world, and further developing its sustainability organizations. In its report, ACI also highlights its support for the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how its future goals can positively contribute to the SDGs.

Managed by B&C® Consortia Management (BCCM), BRAG is a consortium of international and well-respected member organizations and companies engaged in the development of biobased or renewable chemical products. BRAG members recognize the importance of advocacy, education, and communication. For further information, see the BRAG webpage on membership.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 27, 2019, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a rule requiring the gradual transition of fixed-route airport shuttles into 100 percent zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) by 2035. Applied to public and private shuttles that serve the state’s 13 largest airports, including rental car agencies, hotels, and parking facilities, the regulation was approved with an expectation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 500,000 metric tons. According to CARB, the regulation will also benefit shuttle fleet owners through an estimated $30 million in reduced fuel and maintenance costs. Currently, six airports and private businesses serving nine airports already have zero-emission shuttles operating in the state. This new rule presents “a great opportunity for showcasing this process,” stated CARB Executive Officer, Richard Corey. CARB states that airport shuttles are well-suited to zero-emission technology because they operate on short, fixed routes up to 200 miles per day with low average speeds in a stop/go pattern. When operating in this manner, ZEVs are advantageous from an energy and fuel efficiency perspective. The rule will require annual reporting of vehicles to CARB in 2022, and end in 2035 with full compliance of ZEV airport shuttles.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 3, 2019, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report to the U.S. Senate on the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) program effects on gas prices and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Titled Renewable Fuel Standard: Information on Likely Program Effects on Gasoline Prices and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, the report suggests that increases in gas prices outside of the Midwest (which have now diminished) were associated with the nationwide RFS, and that variations in gas prices likely depended on state-by-state transport and storage of ethanol costs. In addition, price increases occurred in states that did not have the initial infrastructure to blend and store ethanol. Regarding GHG emissions, the report states that RFS has had a limited effect, if any. GAO provided two reasons for this limited effect: (1) RFS relies on conventional corn-starch ethanol, which has smaller potential to reduce GHG emissions; and (2) most corn-starch ethanol has been produced in plants that are exempt from emission reduction requirements. In addition, GAO reports concerns that RFS will not meet the GHG emissions reduction goals that it envisioned by 2020. Lastly, GAO reports that the renewable identification numbers (RIN) had a small effect on prices. EPA analysis identified areas of concern within RINs, which included possible fraud in the market, price volatility, and concerns about the impact they have on small refiners.

Tags: RFS, GHG

 

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

Recently, the State of New Jersey released its draft 2019 Environmental Management Plan (EMP), which aims to achieve 100 percent carbon neutral electricity generation and maximum transition to electrification of the building and transportation sectors by 2050. In addition to these goals, New Jersey also intends to reduce GHG emissions to meet the New Jersey Global Warming Response Act (GWRA) GHG limits. GWRA’s 2050 target requires that New Jersey reduce GHG emissions by 80 percent from 2006, which is equivalent to 25.4 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide. Doing so in the most cost effective and beneficially economic way is critical to the state, which will be considering the entirety of its energy demand. Part of New Jersey’s plan is to reduce carbon by incentivizing:

  • The deployment of renewable generation;
     
  • Carbon neutral distributed energy resources;
     
  • Upgrades to the grid that handles variable electricity loads; and
     
  • Decreased energy demand through efficiency and conservation measure.
The full draft 2019 EMP can be accessed here.
Tags: GHG

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 2, 2019, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the approval, by the IATA 75th Annual General Meeting (AGM), of the United Nations’ (UN) International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) resolution, which calls governments to continue work on the implementation of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The first global carbon pricing instrument for an industry sector, CORSIA will cap carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation at 2020 levels (carbon-neutral growth (CNG)). Between 2020 and 2035, CORSIA aims to mitigate over 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide generating at least $40 billion in finance for carbon reduction initiatives. AGM urged ICAO member states to take a number of measures:

  • Consider participation in CORSIA in the pilot phase;
     
  • Align domestic regulations on the monitoring, verification, and reporting of emissions with CORSIA’s standards, preventing market distortions through its requirements;
     
  • Implement CORSIA as the single global market-based mechanism for climate change mitigation; and
     
  • Avoid the implementation of overlapping/duplicate measures such as unilateral carbon taxes.

IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) stated: “CORSIA is a landmark accomplishment. It is a concrete, well-defined way forward to cap global emissions from international aviation. States must not compromise it with inconsistent implementation or by adding a patchwork of taxes on top of it. Its vital mission is to stop growth in net emissions from aviation.” AGM also discussed steps beyond CORSIA, setting the goal to cut net emissions by half of 2005 levels by 2050. Focused on a long-term strategy, IATA calls for investments in better efficiency measures such as sustainable aviation fuels, new aircrafts, and better procedures.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In April 2019, Navius Research Inc. (Navius Research) published a report titled “Biofuels in Canada 2019: Tracking biofuel consumption, feedstocks and avoided greenhouse gas emissions.” Using public data, the report analyzes the volume of transportation biofuels consumed in each Canadian province and estimates the impact of this consumption on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and transportation energy costs. An increase in both ethanol and renewable fuel consumption is noted in the report, which has led to reduced fuel expenditures in Canada by 0.42 percent from 2010 through 2017. This decreased expenditure is relative to a counterfactual scenario without biofuel consumption. Relative to this counterfactual scenario, differences in fuel energy density and fuel costs, Canada has ended up paying more taxes due to biofuel blending and consumption.


 
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