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

On June 13, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the launch of the first stage of the Waves to Water Prize. A competition seeking to accelerate the development of wave energy powered desalination systems and address water security, the prize consists of four stages. The first concept stage is now open for applications until September 11, 2019. U.S. Under Secretary of Energy, Mark W. Menezes, stated that “[t]he start of the Waves to Water Prize marks an important step toward driving growth and progress in the marine energy sector as well as spurring innovation to develop desalinization technologies that will have a global impact.” DOE is offering winners up to $2.5 million in prizes for the advancement of their solutions. From concept, to technical design, to creating a prototype, the competing systems will produce clean water using only waves as power sources. This first stage includes $200,000 in prizes with up to $10,000 for up to 20 winners. Led by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Water Power Technologies Office, the competition seeks interdisciplinary solutions that are modular and easily transportable, ultimately serving clean water needs for remote communities or disaster relief scenarios. Guidelines for application submissions can be found here.

Tags: DOE, Water

 

On April 3, 2014, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW Committee) marked up S.1961, the "Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act." Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the EPW Committee, and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced the bill following the January 9, 2014, chemical spill in West Virginia that left thousands without drinking water for days. The bill would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) by adding "Part G -- Protection of Surface Water from Contamination by Chemical Storage Facilities." The bill is intended to strengthen states' ability to prevent chemical spills such as that of January 9, 2014. A fact sheet regarding the bill is available online.


Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) has issued a memorandum providing an overview of the new bill. The memorandum is available online.
 


 

On February 10, 2014, the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure convened a field hearing in Charleston, West Virginia, on "The Charleston, West Virginia Chemical Spill." On January 9, 2014, a coal processing chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), stored in an aboveground tank owned by Freedom Industries leaked into the Elk River in West Virginia. The leak compromised the water supply to nine counties in the state affecting some 300,000 residents. Due to a lack of toxicological data on MCHM, health officials were delayed in identifying a safe use level and once one was calculated, detractors claimed it was questionable due to the paucity of actual data. The incident has quickly become a basis for accelerating reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a theme that was discussed at the hearing. A summary of the background and issues discussed at the field hearing is available online.


Several witnesses testified that the spill and the fact that authorities are unwilling to declare the affected water in West Virginia "safe" due to a lack of toxicological information on MCHM illustrates the need for TSCA reform. A recent Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG™) report on the spill and similar calls for new legislative action on TSCA is available online.


During the hearing, Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) announced that she has introduced H.R. 4024, the Ensuring Access to Clean Water Act on February 10, 2014. The legislation would require states to create programs to oversee chemical storage facilities and inspect aboveground storage tanks. States without primacy would have programs created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A copy of the bill is available online.


Senate legislation has also been introduced to address the spill and calls for new chemical safety and security protections. On January 27, 2014, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014. The bill would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act by adding Part G -- Protection of Surface Water from Contamination by Chemical Storage Facilities. The bill is intended to strengthen states' ability to prevent chemical spills such as that of January 9, 2014. A fact sheet regarding the bill is available online.


Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) has issued a memorandum providing an overview of the new Senate bill. The memorandum is available online.
 


 

The January 9, 2014, chemical spill in which 7,500 gallons of a coal processing chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, stored in an above-ground tank owned by Freedom Industries leaked into the Elk River upstream from the local water utility's intake pipe serving Charleston, West Virginia, has prompted new calls for chemical safety and security legislation. For instance, concerns have been expressed about the adequacy of information regarding chemical safety and health risks, an issue that has been repeatedly raised with respect to chemicals "grandfathered" under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group's (BRAG™) report on the spill and call for new legislative action is available online.


In response to the spill and calls for new protections, on January 27, 2014, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014. The bill would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) by adding Part G -- Protection of Surface Water from Contamination by Chemical Storage Facilities. The bill is intended to strengthen states' ability to prevent chemical spills such as that of January 9, 2014. A fact sheet regarding the bill is available online.


Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) has issued a memorandum providing an overview of the new bill. The memorandum is available online.


The Senate EPW Committee has scheduled a hearing on the "Examination of the Safety and Security of Drinking Water Supplies Following the Central West Virginia Drinking Water Crisis." The hearing is scheduled for February 4, 2014, at 10:00 a.m.
 


 

On November 20, 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intent to release for comment proposed Draft Guidelines for Product Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels for Voluntary Use in Federal Procurement (Draft Guidelines). EPA states the Draft Guidelines -- developed by EPA, the General Services Administration (GSA), and other federal agencies following several "listening sessions" with a wide range of stakeholders -- are intended to help federal purchasers identify and select greener products and meet sustainability purchasing goals. Under several federal purchasing mandates, including but not limited to Executive Order 13514 (Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance) and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 23.103, federal agencies must ensure that 95 percent of their acquisitions and contracts are sustainable, such as by buying environmentally preferable products.

The Draft Guidelines and a pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the Draft Guidelines are available online. A 90-day comment period will be set once the Federal Register is published, which is expected in early December 2013.
 

Our full memorandum, with background and analysis, is available on the BRAG website.