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 May 18, 2015, the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) issued a white paper arguing that "Co-location Requirements under the RFS Impede Advanced Biofuels Development." The paper was sent to EPA. It requests that EPA clarify its definition of feedstock material under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) so that biofuels producers that pre-process their feedstocks away from final refineries are no longer prohibited from generating renewable identification numbers (RIN) under the RFS, and therefore contributing to the volumetric goals of the statute. Senior staff from several such producers contributed to the white paper, including Algenol Biofuels, Cortus Energy, Fulcrum Bioenergy, LanzaTech, and Solena Fuels.


 

On April 28, 2015, the European Parliament approved a draft law restricting crop-based biofuels in order to encourage production of advanced biofuels with low-risk ILUC and cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The law, that was discussed in the April 23, 2015, Biobased and Renewable Products Update, applies to legislation requiring EU Member States ensure that at least 10 percent of energy used in transport by 2020 is renewable. Under the new law, no more than 7 percent of energy consumption by 2020 can be first-generation biofuels, resulting in at least 3 percent of energy consumption coming from advanced biofuel. The law also requires the reporting of GHG emissions caused by ILUC and the publication of data on ILUC-related emissions. Member States have until 2017 to enact the legislation.


 

On April 14, 2015, Members of the European Parliament and certain ministers agreed to limit how biofuels derived from agricultural crops would be accounted for in the European Union's (EU) goal to increase the use of renewable energy. The new law caps the use of first generation biofuels to seven percent of the total energy use being counted towards the EU's renewable energy goal of ten percent. Member States will have the opportunity to reduce the cap of crop-based biofuels at their discretion. The law came about in part from fears about food security and negative indirect land use change (ILUC) occurring due to widespread crop-based biofuels. The EU has used ILUC to calculate the net greenhouse gas (GHG) production of biofuels, despite concerns that it is scientifically flawed. The agreement reached will eliminate the ILUC factor as a way to judge the benefits of fuels in the EU, but will still need to be reported by fuel suppliers. The agreement will be voted on during the April 27-30, 2015, plenary session. Member States will have until 2017 to enact the legislation.


 

On September 29, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an initial notice announcing the timeframes to submit applications for participation in the Advanced Biofuels Payment Program. Applications for participation in fiscal year 2015 will be accepted between October 1, 2014, and October 31, 2014. The Federal Register notice is available online.


 

On April 8, 2014, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a hearing on "Advanced Biofuels: Creating Jobs and Lower Prices at the Pump." The following witnesses testified at the hearing: Mr. Richard Childress, CEO, Richard Childress Racing, LLC; Mr. Jan Koninckx, Global Business Director for Biorefineries, DuPont Industrial Biosciences; Mr. Brooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Ethanol Council; Dr. Sumesh Arora, Vice President, Innovate Mississippi, Director of Strategic Biomass Solutions; and, Ms. Nancy Young, Vice President, Environmental Affairs, Airlines for America. More information about the hearing is available online.


Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) held the hearing to highlight positive developments in the advanced biofuels space. Stabenow's home state of Michigan has a heavy biobased manufacturing sector and the Senator has been working hard to garner federal support for the industry. She is opposed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule that would lower the 2014 renewable volume obligations (RVO) for corn ethanol, cellulosic biofuels, and advanced biofuels. At the hearing this week, witnesses warned that lowering the 2014 RVOs for corn ethanol and advanced biofuels will chill investment in U.S. biofuels.


EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy made a recent public statement suggesting that the 2014 RFS rule is expected to be finalized by June.
 


 

On February 4, 2014, EPA filed a 113 page brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In its brief, EPA attempts to defend its final rule setting the 2013 RFS in the face of challenges to it by Monroe, the American Petroleum Institute, and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. EPA argues that it was reasonable to maintain the total renewable and advanced biofuel levels under the RFS statute for 2013 because it determined that sufficient compliance options would be available to obligated parties to comply with the requirements that year. The court has not yet set a date for oral arguments.


 

It is being reported that API and the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) are working together on potential legislative language to increase the value of RINs associated with advanced biofuels and to allow them to help make up conventional RINs due to blend wall constraints under the federal RFS. According to news reports, the two groups are working to present this potential language to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who are working on developing legislation to modify the RFS.


Several of API's largest members, including Shell and BP, are working on projects to produce advanced biofuels. Reportedly, API and ABFA contend that increasing the value of advanced biofuel RINs and allowing them to help make up conventional RINs due to blend wall constraints would help spur investment in and development of advanced biofuels to help meet the RFS. All other major biofuels trade associations are advocating against any legislative change to the RFS. They argue that, however well-intentioned, opening the RFS up to amendment would make the law vulnerable to repeal, for which the oil industry is heavily lobbying.


In addition, several biofuels groups argue that there are sufficient RFS compliance options and solutions to the blend wall, which they say has been intentionally created by the oil industry that has chosen not to take steps to address it. For instance, these groups argue the oil industry could encourage greater investment in E85 and its distribution. While API is still advocating for RFS repeal, it is reported that the group recognizes that outcome is unlikely in this Congress. Reportedly, this is the reason the group is working with ABFA on the advanced RINs amendment.
 


 

On October 9, 2013, enzyme producer Novozymes and biofuels producer Beta Renewables announced the opening of a new advanced biofuels facility located in Crescentino, Italy, that will make commercial quantities of cellulosic biofuels. More information on the announcement is available online.