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 April 4, 2019, DOE EERE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the appearance of 23 journal articles from some of the nation’s leading biomass experts in the journal Frontiers in Energy Research. The collection of articles, titled Advancements in Biomass Feedstock Preprocessing: Conversion Ready Feedstocks, focuses on the many years of research and development into biomass preprocessing that has been largely supported by DOE EERE’s BETO. According to the announcement, researchers from Idaho National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory were part of more than 100 authors representing more than 30 research institutions, universities, and private companies who contributed to the special issue containing these 23 articles.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is offering an opportunity for funding to advance a bioenergy or biochemical production technology toward commercial scale through the construction and operation of a pilot plant. To be eligible for the AGRI Bioenergy/Biochemical Pilot Project Grant, applicants must be a Minnesota-based company, learning institution, local government unit, Native American Tribal community, or individual (including for-profit businesses and colleges/universities). Eligible grant projects will be for the development of innovative bioenergy or biochemical production technology ideas that have advanced beyond the proof of concept and are at the scaling up to pilot-plant stage. Up to $150,000 will be awarded and must be used for:  (1) wages, software, or anything else necessary to perform the tasks of the grant project’s work plan; and (2) equipment needed for the project implementation. Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. (CDT) on April 26, 2019.  For further details, see the Request for Proposals.


 

Last week, from April 3-5, 2019, Biofuels Digest hosted its annual Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference (ABLC) in Washington, D.C.  Among those present were various industry stakeholders, government representatives, and federal agency staffers. Innovative technologies were presented and much networking was done. The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group’s (BRAG®) presence was welcomed and provided an opportunity for industry stakeholders to gain insight into regulatory developments in the biobased sector, particularly during the Regulatory Workshop that took place on April 4, 2019. The workshop was moderated by Richard Engler, Ph.D., Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.  While Engler covered timelines for approval of new substances, Ray Matulka, The Burdock Group, covered new food or feed additives, which is especially important if fermentation byproducts will be used as animal feed. Graham Noyes, Noyes Law Firm, covered California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program, its success, and similar other state-level efforts.
 
A large number of panels held during the conference circled back to concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program and measures associated with its implementation. Highlighting the importance of the intersection between policy and commerce, panelists in the Bioeconomy Policy Forum were particularly frustrated with the number of small refinery exemptions under the Trump Administration. The fact that, under President Trump’s two years, a greater number of small refinery waivers has been granted than during the Obama Administration’s eight years was highly criticized.  Panelists went as far as stating that these measures under the RFS Program are leading to demand destruction for renewable fuels.
 
In agreement with industry, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) expressed frustration with the small refinery exemptions granted thus far. Despite these obstacles, however, Senator Grassley also stated that he is encouraged by the Trump Administration in working on short- and long-term solutions for issues that often create barriers towards alternative energy goals. Senator Grassley ensured his support for industry, emphasizing alternative energy’s key role in supporting national security, the economy, good environment, and energy independence.

Tags: ABLC, Biofuel

 

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In March 2019, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), a conservation organization working across the U.S., published a report called New Research Findings Link Biofuel Mandate to Environmental Harm.  According to the report, the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its implementation are leading to environmental disaster which involves the destruction of the monarch butterfly habitat, climate change acceleration, and drainage of western aquifers, amongst other issues.  The research referred to in the NWF report was prepared by the University of California-Davis, University of Wisconsin, and Kansas State University.  Scientists at the aforementioned institutions have assessed the direct connection between the U.S. biofuels policy and specific economic and field-level environmental changes since RFS’ inception ten years ago.  The report summarizes some of these connections and outlines measures Congress and the Administration must take to prevent further damage.

Tags: Biofuel, NWF, RFS

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 27, 2019, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act of 2019 (S. 581).  The legislation would remove “burdensome” regulations on domestic energy production.  The bill “provides new economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers by allowing fuel producers and automobile manufacturers to innovate and bring new products to market that will lower costs for consumers, increase domestic energy production, and protect the environment,” said Senator Paul.  The Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act would remove regulations blocking higher ethanol blends, such as gasoline blended with up to fifteen percent ethanol (E15), from entering the marketplace.  It also removes the requirement for EPA certifications on aftermarket vehicle conversions.  The bill specifically would reform Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements by allowing higher blend levels of ethanol to exceed the current 9.0 pounds per square inch (psi) standard, and it prevents EPA from regulating biomass fuel.  RVP is a measure of how quickly fuel evaporates into the atmosphere. EPA regulates RVP in conjunction with ozone emissions in the summer months.  Congress previously directed EPA to issue a “one pound waiver” for ethanol blends of ten percent, allowing E10 to be sold at 10.0 psi.  Last year, President Trump signed an executive order directing EPA to look into the possibility of allowing year-round sales of E15.  This bill extends the Congressional waiver to higher blends of ethanol, including E15.

Tags: Biofuel, E15

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 18, 2019, (EPA) announced a public hearing to be held for the proposed rule: “Modifications to Fuel Registrations to Provide Flexibility for E15: Modifications to RFS RIN Market Regulations.”  84 Fed. Reg. 9734.  The proposed rule would implement regulatory changes allowing E15 to take advantage of a Renewal Fuels Standard (RFS) program waiver. Currently, the 1-psi Raid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver only applies to ten percent ethanol (E10) during the summer months. The proposed rule also includes an interpretative definition of E15 gasoline as “substantially similar” to the fuel used to certify Tier 3 motor vehicles.  Lastly, EPA is also proposing changes to some RFS compliance system elements that would improve renewable identification number market functioning and prevent market manipulation.  The public hearing will take place in Ypsilanti, MI, on March 29, 2019.  The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on March 21, 2019.  84 Fed. Reg. 10584. Comments are due by April 29, 2019.

Tags: EPA, RFS, RIN, Biofuel

 
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