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 4, 2018, several biofuel and agricultural groups, including the Renewable Fuels Association, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), and the National Biodiesel Board, among others, petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) obligations.  The ACE announcement states that the petition asks EPA to “change its regulations to account for lost volumes of renewable fuel resulting from the unprecedented number of retroactive small refinery exemptions from [RFS] obligations recently granted by EPA.”  The petition states that Section 211(o)(2)(a)(i) of the Clean Air Act “requires EPA to ensure that the annual required volumes of renewable fuel are introduced into the nation’s transportation fuel supply,” and that EPA’s “suddenly reversing its prior policy and granting retroactive exemptions to so many small refineries without adjusting its Annual Standard Equations to account for the resulting lost volumes,” means that EPA is “failing to meet its statutory obligation to ‘ensure’ that transportation fuels in the United States contain the applicable volumes of renewable fuel.”  The petition requests EPA to (1) convene a proceeding to reconsider the annual standard equations in 40 C.F.R. § 80.1405(c); and (2) convene a proceeding to reconsider its final action entitled “Periodic Reviews for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program” (82 Fed. Reg. 58364 (Dec. 12, 2017)).

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 8, 2018, petitioners in the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) case Coffeyville Resources Refining, et al. v. EPA filed their final briefs in the case challenging EPA’s final rule that established:  (1) the annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel (BBD), advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel that apply to all motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported in the year 2017; and (2) the applicable volume of BBD for 2018.  81 Fed. Reg. 89746 (Dec. 12, 2016).  Final briefs were filed by petitioners Coffeyville Resources Refining & Marketing, LLC, et al. and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).  The lengthy briefs reiterate the petitioners’ arguments that EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in relying on incomplete and flawed information and methodology when setting the cellulosic biofuel requirements and other 2017 obligations, and that EPA violated 42 U.S.C. § 7545(o)(2)(B)(ii) when it set the 2018 BBD volume based on factors that are not among those Congress instructed the Agency to consider, including the 2018 advanced-biofuel volume.  Respondent EPA and intervenors for EPA also filed final briefs.  EPA argued that its use of the cellulosic waiver was reasonable and reasonably used and applied; the D.C. Circuit has previously upheld its cellulosic biofuel projection methodology; and it properly assessed and set the BBD volumes for 2018.  Oral argument in this case has not yet been scheduled.  All of the briefs are available on Inside EPA’s website (subscription required).

Tags: Biofuel, RFS

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 5, 2018, Brazil’s National Energy Policy Council (CNPE) set a target to reduce fuel emissions ten percent by 2028. These targets are part of the RenovaBio law, passed in December 2017, that aims to meet Brazil’s commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement by increasing the share of ethanol and biodiesel in Brazil’s fuel mix and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Andre Rocha, president of the National Sugarcane/Ethanol Forum, a group of 16 state sugar/ethanol producers associations, told Bloomberg Environment (subscription required) that the ten percent target “is not very ambitious, but is sufficient to encourage biofuel producers’ to expand output.”
 
The passage of RenovaBio will set up a carbon credit market for biofuel producers to trade carbon dioxide emissions credits with fuel distributors. Fuel distributors must either purchase credits or additional biofuels to meet annual emissions reductions targets. This carbon credit market will go into effect in 2020, with the carbon credits expected to result in $341 billion in biofuel investments and 8.3 billion additional gallons of ethanol and biodiesel consumption by 2028. On June 11, 2018, The Wilson Center hosted a meeting with a delegation from Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy to discuss the implementation of RenovaBio. The slides from the presentation are available online.


 

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 25, 2018, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) dropped its nearly decade long pursuit to convert a $1-per-gallon tax credit for biofuel blenders to an equivalent credit for producers. NBB originally sought to change the credit to support the domestic biofuel industry, as some blenders who benefited from the credit were also importing foreign biodiesel. Recent import duties imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department have done a great deal to curb inexpensive biodiesel imports from Indonesia and Argentina (as reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post “USTIC Determines Argentinian And Indonesian Biodiesel Dumping Injured U.S. Industry”), thus removing much of the impetus to convert the tax credit program. The $1-per-gallon credit has been retroactively approved for 2017 and NBB continues to push for the credit’s extension in 2018.

Tags: NBB, Tax, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 21, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced that it will fund 87 new projects across 34 states, totaling nearly $13 million in funding.  This funding is part of the 219 grants totaling $34 million awarded to 183 small businesses in 41 states through the DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Nine EERE technology offices are funding ten Phase I topic areas (Advanced Manufacturing I & II, Bioenergy, Buildings, Fuel Cells, Geothermal. Solar, Vehicles, Water, and Wind) across 29 subtopics.  The announcement states that DOE technology offices “award Phase I grants to small businesses that demonstrate technical feasibility for innovations during the first phase of their research,” most Phase I awards “are for $150,000 for less than one year,” and, if completed successfully, “Phase I projects are eligible for … Phase II funding awards [that] provide up to $1 million or up to $1.5 million, depending on the technology, and an award known as a sequential Phase II award can provide up to an additional $1 million.”  

The full list of EERE-funded projects, that includes 13 bioenergy projects, is available online.  The bioenergy companies receiving funding are:  Emergy LLC; Media and Process Technology Inc.; SarTec Corporation; TDA Research, Inc.; Bio-Missions LLC; Faraday Technology, Inc.;  Industrial Microbes, Inc.; Lygos; Global Algae Innovations, Inc. (three projects); MicroBio Engineering; and Molecule Works Inc.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 16, 2018, Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc. announced the start of site construction for Phase 2 of the Sierra BioFuels Plant in Reno, Nevada.  This commercial-scale plant will be the nation’s first to convert municipal solid waste feedstock into low-carbon, renewable jet fuel. “Launching the final construction phase of Sierra is another milestone for Fulcrum, our partners, Northern Nevada and the low-carbon fuels industry,” Jim Macias, Fulcrum’s President and Chief Executive Officer, stated during the groundbreaking event. “We’ve spent ten years developing, designing, testing, improving and demonstrating this new process so that it is now ready for commercial deployment. By converting waste into low-carbon transportation fuel, Fulcrum provides a real solution to the aviation industry’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.”
 
Fulcrum’s thermochemical conversion process for jet fuel is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 80 percent when compared to traditional petroleum fuel. The Reno plant is scheduled to start commercial production in 2020, producing 10.5 million gallons of fuel annually. Similar plants are currently in development by Fulcrum, with eventual plans to collectively produce more than 300 million gallons of jet fuel annually. These plans have already drawn airline investors to Fulcrum, with Cathay Pacific Airways investing in 2014, and United Airlines investing in 2015.


 

 
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