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 Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) and Alberta Innovates are hosting SPARK 2017 to support game-changing solutions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and advance the bioindustrial sector.  The conference will take place November 6-8, 2017, in Edmonton, Canada.  SPARK 2017 aims to inspire, motivate, and support researchers and innovators by connecting them with others working to advance innovative technology across four key areas, including:

  • Bioindustrial Development and Biological GHG Emissions;
  • Industrial Processes and Energy Efficiency;
  • Reducing GHG Footprint from Fossil Fuels; and
  • Low-emitting Electricity Supply.
Abstract submissions are due by June 19, 2017.

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) and Alberta Innovates are hosting SPARK 2017 to support game-changing solutions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and advance the bioindustrial sector.  The conference will take place November 6-8, 2017, in Edmonton, Canada.  SPARK 2017 aims to inspire, motivate, and support researchers and innovators by connecting them with others working to advance innovative technology across four key areas, including:

  • Bioindustrial Development and Biological GHG Emissions;
  • Industrial Processes and Energy Efficiency;
  • Reducing GHG Footprint from Fossil Fuels; and
  • Low-emitting Electricity Supply. 

Abstract submissions are due by June 19, 2017.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On March 29, 2017, the Urban Air Initiative (UAI) released a statement claiming that the Coordinating Research Council’s (CRC) study on fuel emissions was biased and flawed.  According to UAI, the match blending of test fuels in the study fails to recognize the performance of ethanol in real world fuels, including improving fuel quality and reducing toxic tailpipe emissions.  UAI stated that performing match blending in a lab using a custom test fuel rather than real world fuel discredits the study, and the inaccurate data would likely lead EPA to continue to limit the use of higher ethanol blends.  To encourage the development of more accurate information, UAI is working on a guidance document to assist researchers to better understand the changes in fuel properties when evaluating ethanol and emissions to ensure that lab test fuels match the fuels in use.


 

On March 9, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that its My Renewable Diesel helped reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 6.7 million tons in 2016.  The reduction of carbon emissions from MY Renewable Diesel is equivalent to the removal of 2.4 million passenger cars from the road for one full year.  The low-carbon diesel, which is refined from renewable raw materials, is suitable for all diesel-powered passenger cars and heavy transport vehicles, including buses, garbage trucks, and emergency vehicles, without the need for vehicle-related investments or modifications.  Neste aims to increase the total annual GHG emission reduction volume to seven million tons in 2017


 
■  Biotechnology Innovation Organization, “BIO Submits Comments on EPA Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule
 
■  EPA, “Draft Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2015
 
■  International Energy Agency, “New Bioenergy Roadmap Guide Released Jointly by IEA and FAO

 

On January 17, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the rebranding of its “Neste Renewable Diesel” to “Neste MY Renewable Diesel,” and the updating of other names within the renewable products family to “Neste MY” brand names.  Neste MY Renewable Diesel is a low-carbon drop-in renewable fuel that does not require vehicle modifications, and can be refueled into any blending ratio due to its compatibility with existing diesel fuels.  Compared to conventional petroleum diesel, Neste MY Renewable Diesel enables up to 80 percent lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the lifecycle.


 

On January 18, 2017, Christopher Grundler, the Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), signed a notice inviting comment on its analysis of the upstream greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the production of sugar beets for use as biofuel feedstock.  The notice describes the analysis performed, which considers the extraction of non-cellulosic beet sugar for conversion to biofuel and the use of the remaining beet pulp for animal feed, and how EPA may use the analysis to determine whether biofuels from sugar beets qualify as renewable fuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program based on the GHG emission threshold requirement.  The notice states that biofuels from sugar beets could qualify as renewable fuel or advanced biofuel, depending on the type and efficiency of the fuel production process technology used.  A prepublication version of the report is available now, with a final publication date to be announced.  A 30 day public comment period will begin after the formal proposal is published in the Federal Register.


 

On January 12, 2017, USDA released a report on the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) balance of corn ethanol, titled “A Life-Cycle Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Corn-Based Ethanol.”  The study reviewed industry and farm sector performance over the past decade and found that in the United States corn-based ethanol generates 43 percent less GHG emissions than gasoline.  Compared to previous studies, the lifecycle GHG benefits were greater due to improvements in corn production efficiency, conservation practices, and ethanol production technologies.  The report also presented two projected GHG emissions profiles for corn ethanol in 2022, with one assuming a continuation of observable trends and the other analyzing additional improvements that could further reduce the GHG emissions.


 

On December 1, 2016, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs regarding the feasibility of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program .  GAO stated that the goals of the program, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector, were unlikely to be met as envisioned due to the limited production of advanced biofuels.  Despite the ability of advanced biofuels to achieve greater GHG reductions, conventional biofuels account for the majority of biofuel blended into domestic transportation fuels under the RFS.  According to experts interviewed by GAO, the limited use of advanced biofuels is due to high production costs.  The testimony was based on two reports that GAO published on November 28, 2016, which reviewed the federal effort that supported research and development into advanced biofuels and the management of the RFS program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  During the hearing, GAO highlighted the suggestions made by experts in its November reports regarding federal actions that could improve the RFS framework and policy alternatives that could more efficiently reduce GHG emissions.

 


 

On October 11, 2016, the Biofrontiers platform, a group of industry and civil society stakeholders brought together by the European Climate Foundation, released policy recommendations for the European Union’s (EU) 2030 climate policy.  The group stated that the transport sector has become the largest source of carbon emissions in the EU, and is therefore an urgent area to tackle following the Paris climate change agreement.  Policy recommendations put forth by the Biofrontiers platform, as stated in the Biofrontiers report, include:
 




 
Energy and climate policy for 2030 should ensure deep cuts to lifecycle emissions and safeguard food, soil, water and biodiversity. Incentives should be linked to the availability of sustainable feedstocks.  Site-specific assessments are needed to create confidence in feedstock supply chains.
 


 
Within [current EU energy policy focusing on fuels with low carbon intensity], support for advanced alternative fuels should be prioritised.
 


 
A realistic and responsible binding target for fuel suppliers for advanced alternative fuels in 2025, with a higher target range set for 2030.
 



 
Policymakers should have regard to other objectives in forestry, climate, agriculture and waste management.  Where there may be competition between liquid transport fuel production from wastes and other waste management options, policy should “encourage the options that deliver the best overall environmental outcome,” as required by the Waste Framework Directive.
 

 
Any 2030 policy framework should be designed with flexibility to allow novel fuel technologies and different feedstocks to be eligible for support as they arrive on the market, subject to life cycle analysis and sustainability assessment.

 
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