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.

On March 16, 2017, 23 Senators, including Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), sent President Trump a bipartisan letter requesting that he maintain the point of obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  In the letter, the Senators remind Trump that the RFS program was adopted to provide stability for renewable fuel producers and that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that, to meet this goal, the point of obligation should be placed on refiners and importers.  Shifting the point of obligation downstream would create little incentive for refiners to produce the necessary blendstocks, which would make downstream entities unable to comply.  The letter outlines the detrimental effects that changing the point of obligation would have on refiners, blenders, marketers and retailers, and states that the proposed changes are broadly opposed by the majority of the transportation fuel market.  The Senators acknowledge Trump’s commitment to the RFS program and state that they look forward to working with Trump to ensure the RFS program continues to aid in job creation and economic growth across the country.


 
On February 17, 2017, several Republican Senators sent a letter to Scott Pruitt, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, to confirm their willingness to work with Pruitt to grow the nation’s economy and support American jobs and to request that Pruitt address EPA’s volatility regulation of ethanol fuel blends.  In the letter, the Senators describe the one pound per square inch (psi) waiver that allows gasoline blends containing ten percent ethanol (E10) to be sold during the summer months despite the gasoline volatility requirements in place from June 1 to September 15 under the Clean Air Act (CAA).  The letter requests that Pruitt extend the one psi waiver to higher ethanol blends since the volatility of such blends is lower than E10.  The Senators state that without a waiver, fuels, such as E15, are prohibited from use during the summer months, which discourages retailers from installing infrastructure to distribute fuel alternatives and increases costs for consumers.

 

On February 13, 2017, seven democratic Senators sent a letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn requesting details on Carl Icahn’s role in the Trump Administration and the extent of his influence over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  On December 21, 2016, it was announced that Mr. Icahn would serve the Trump Administration as a special advisor for overhauling federal regulations.  The Senators’ letter highlights concerns over Icahn’s public statements regarding RFS obligations and his role as chairman of the board and majority shareholder of Icahn Enterprises.  The Senators noted that, as of September 30, 2016, Icahn Enterprises owned an 82 percent stake in CVR Energy, which is an oil refiner required to meet the RFS obligations.  The letter requests that McGahn provide answers to a number of questions regarding Icahn, including whether:
 

■  He is a federal employee;
 
■   He has access to confidential information;
 
■  He provided financial disclosures to the Administration;
 
■  He is barred from providing advice on any regulations;
 
■  He provided advice to President Trump on any Senate-confirmed or schedule C appointees;
 
■  The Administration believes he is subject to any laws or regulations governing conflicts of interest;
 
■  He has recused himself from any decisions or discussions that may present a conflict of interest; and
 
■  He is required to divest from any of his holdings.

 

On June 30, 2015, 46 U.S. Senators sent a letter to the EPA, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and USDA stating that "[f]ederal policies across all departments and agencies must remove any uncertainties and contradictions through a clear, unambiguous message that forest bioenergy is part of the nation's energy future." Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) headed the letter and pointed to the recognized carbon neutrality of forest biomass as a renewable resource and asked that the federal government consistently recognize the energy source when making regulations to reduce emissions.