By Kathleen M. Roberts
On October 25, 2017, bipartisan legislation aimed at leveling the playing field between renewable and fossil fuels was re-introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), along with eight bipartisan co-sponsors, introduced the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act (S. 2005) in the Senate. Representative Ted Poe (R-TX), along with six co-sponsors, introduced similar legislation (H.R. 4118) in the House. The legislation would allow investors in a range of clean energy projects, including renewable fuels, access to a corporate structure whose tax advantage is currently available only to investors in fossil fuel-based energy projects. According to Senator Coons, “[u]pdating the tax code in this way will help increase parity and ensure that [clean] energy technologies can permanently benefit from the incentives that traditional energy sources have depended on to build infrastructure for more than 30 years.” The bills were previously introduced in the Senate and House on June 24, 2015.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On July, 19, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, issued a statement to congratulate California on its strong climate leadership supporting the transition to clean energy. Neste stated that it looks forward to continuing to support the State's targets at curbing carbon emissions through its renewable products.
With a two-thirds majority, the California State Senate and Assembly voted to extend the State’s cap-and-trade program until 2030, and to codify the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) into law. The LCFS regulation aims to reduce the carbon intensity of fuels sold in California by ten percent by 2020, in line with the California Health and Safety Code mandate to reduce greenhouse gases in California. The law will now recognize low-carbon transportation alternatives for the allocation of future Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds (GGRF) from related auction revenues.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On June 6, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the winners of its Imagine Chemistry challenge. The following winners have been awarded joint development agreements with AkzoNobel’s Specialty Chemicals business to help bring their ideas to market:
- Ecovia Renewables was awarded for its fermentation technology to make polyglutamic acid, which can be used to make thickeners for personal care products and other uses;
- Industrial Microbes was awarded for its solution to use genetically modified microorganisms to turn CO2 and natural gas into key chemical building blocks, such as ethylene oxide; and
- Renmatix was awarded for its technology to use pressurized water to break down plant biomass into cellulosic products with a range of end-use applications.
The awardees were selected from a group of 20 finalists that participated in a three-day event at AkzoNobel’s Deventer Open Innovation Center. In addition to the winners, seven other finalists were awarded prizes, such as a research agreement with AkzoNobel, chemical research support from AkzoNobel, a rent voucher for the Deventer Open Innovation Center, partner support by Icos Capital and KPMG, and partner support by Icos Capital and KPMG. More information on the Imagine Chemistry Challenge is available in the BRAG blog post “AkzoNobel Launches Global Chemicals Start-Up Challenge
On December 6, 2016, EPA held a hearing on its proposed Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support rule. The proposed rule would update the regulatory structure to allow biofuel producers to process and convert biomass at different facilities, update fuel regulations to allow for more high-ethanol fuel blends in flex fuel vehicles, and permit cellulosic biofuels to be produced from new feedstock sources. Testimony provided by Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) focused on the impact of the proposed rule on the development of the E15 market and strengthening ethanol flex-fuel provisions. Geoff Cooper, the senior vice president of RFA, stated that RFA was opposed to EPA establishing a quality survey program to collect and analyze ethanol flex-fuel samples, and highlighted the different treatment between E10 and E15 regarding volatility. Chris Bliley, the director of regulatory affairs for Growth Energy, also pushed EPA to resolve the vapor pressure relief issue, stating that the proposal would isolate E15 as the only ethanol-blended fuel without Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) relief in conventional areas. Bliley supported the development of cellulosic biofuels through the use of biointermediates and new pathways, as well. More information on the proposed rule is available in the BRAG blog post EPA Announces Public Hearing For Proposed Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on November 16, 2016. Comments are due by January 17, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. (EST).
As previously reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group’s (BRAG®) Biobased and Renewable Products Update of November 11, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a notice in the Federal Register of a public hearing for the proposed “Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule.” The proposed rule updates the regulatory structure to allow biofuel producers to process and convert biomass at different facilities, update fuel regulations to allow for more high-ethanol fuel blends in flex fuel vehicles (FFV), and permit cellulosic biofuels to be produced from new feedstock sources. EPA is seeking comment on the programs covered in the proposal, as well as renewable identification number (RIN) generation for renewable transport fuels and regulatory requirements for facilities that could use carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the future production of renewable fuels. More information about the proposed rule is available in the BRAG blog post “ EPA Announces Public Hearing For Proposed Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule. ” The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on November 16, 2016. Comments are due by January 17, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. (EST).
On October 3, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the proposed Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule. This proposed rule includes suggestions to improve the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program and related pro-renewable fuel regulations. Updated regulations included in the proposed rule include allowing biofuel producers to process feedstock and then convert the material into fuels at different facilities, and an expansion to the availability of high-ethanol fuel blends. The proposed rule allows increases to the types of feedstocks that biofuels can be produced from, allowing cellulosic biofuels to be produced from short-rotation poplar and willow trees; renewable diesel and biodiesel to be produced from non-cellulosic portions of separated food waste; and cellulosic diesel to be produced from compressed cellulosic feedstocks and petroleum. Comments will be due 60 days after the proposed rule’s publication in the Federal Register.
On December 23, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it was ending its funding of BlueFire Renewable's cellulosic production facility project in Fulton, Mississippi. DOE took this action because the company reportedly failed to meet deadlines related to financing the project. This news comes as the cellulosic industry continues to be under attack for failing to live up to expectations under the federal RFS.