Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C., law firm providing biobased and renewable chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in bringing innovative products to market.

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced on July 26, 2022, that it “has achieved a significant milestone in decreasing the minimum fuel selling price (MFSP) of drop-in biofuels, which are fuels made from biomass and other waste carbon sources, and that are compatible with existing petroleum fuel infrastructure and conventional vehicles.” BETO partnered with T2C-Energy, LLC (T2C) to validate pilot-scale production of drop-in biofuels with a price of $3 per gallon of gas equivalent (GGE) and at least 60 percent lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than petroleum, using T2C’s TRIFTS® process.
 
According to BETO, the TRIFTS process converts anaerobic digestor produced biogas (or landfill gas) to liquid transportation fuels. TRIFTS has allowed drop-in renewable diesel fuel to reach an MFSP of $2.91/GGE without the use of credits from the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), California Low Carbon Fuels Standard, or other carbon credits while reducing GHG emissions by 130 percent when compared to traditional petroleum diesel fuel.

Tags: DOE, BETO, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 1, 2022, a 15-day public comment period on two additional peer review candidates for the external peer review of the Biofuels and the Environment: Third Triennial Report to Congress (RtC3). 87 Fed. Reg. 46958. EPA previously requested comment on an initial pool of 20 candidates announced in a May 9, 2022, Federal Register notice. EPA states that after considering public comments and the balance and collective expertise of the reviewers, it asked ERG, the independent contractor organizing the peer review, to identify additional candidates to strengthen expertise gaps and allow a more balanced panel. EPA seeks public comment on additional peer review candidates to strengthen underrepresented areas of expertise, specifically economics, water quality, and ecology disciplines. According to EPA, ERG will ensure the peer reviewers’ combined expertise best spans the following disciplines: economics, engineering, agronomics, land use change, remote sensing, air quality, biogeochemistry, water quality, hydrology, conservation biology, limnology, and ecology. Comments are due August 16, 2022.
 
The first report to Congress (RtC1), completed in 2011, provided an assessment of the environmental and resource conservation impacts associated with increased biofuel production and use. The second report to Congress (RtC2) was completed in 2018 and reaffirmed the overarching conclusions of RtC1. RtC3 builds on the previous two reports and provides an update on the impacts to date of the RFS Program on the environment. It assesses air, water, and soil quality; ecosystem health and biodiversity; and other effects. RtC3 also includes new analyses not previously included in RtC1 and RtC2.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On June 1, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) titled “Scale-Up of Integrated Biorefineries.” The FOA states that $59 million is available to expand the production of biofuels and bioproducts. In alignment with a broader DOE strategy to support biorefinery projects for the transportation sector, the FOA aims to reduce emissions in hard-to-decarbonize sectors and create jobs in rural areas of the United States. DOE is focused on applied research, development, and deployment of such products to improve the performance and cost of biofuel production technologies and scale-up production systems in partnership with industry.

U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm, stated, “[e]nergy harnessed from plants and waste presents a huge opportunity to reduce emissions from hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as aviation, rail, and shipping, while supporting high-quality jobs across rural America. DOE’s investment in biofuels is a key component of the Biden Administration’s effort to support clean energy technologies that increase our energy independence and move us closer to a net-zero carbon economy.”

To be eligible for funding, applicants must submit a concept paper to DOE by 5:00 p.m. (EDT), July 8, 2022. Concept papers and applications must be submitted through DOE’s online application portal.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On April 18, 2022, EPA announced the opportunity for public comment on its proposed analysis of the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with biofuels produced from canola/rapeseed oil. EPA’s assessment considers diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) produced from canola/rapeseed oil through a hydrotreating process. EPA is proposing to find that these pathways would meet the lifecycle GHG emissions reduction threshold of 50 percent required for advanced biofuels and biomass-based diesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. Based on its analyses, EPA is also proposing to approve these fuel pathways, making them eligible to generate Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) if they meet the definitional and RIN generation criteria for renewable fuel specified in the RFS regulations.

Comments must be submitted by May 18, 2022.

Tags: EPA, GHG, Biofuel, RFS, RIN

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On April 12, 2022, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, announced steps that USDA is taking to implement President Biden’s plan to enable energy independence by boosting homegrown biofuels. President Biden’s plan aims to reduce energy prices and tackle the rising consumer prices caused by “Putin’s Price Hike.” As part of USDA’s measures to help the Biden Administration to achieve its goals, USDA is making the following investments:

  • $5.6 million in funding for seven states to build infrastructure for renewable fuels through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program;
     
  • $700 million for biofuels producers through USDA’s new Biofuel Producer Program;
     
  • $100 million for biofuels infrastructure grants; and
     
  • Billions of dollars to support a new market in sustainable aviation fuels by partnering with the federal government to advance the use of cleaner and more sustainable fuels in the United States.

According to USDA, these investments will assist in the development, transportation, and distribution of low-carbon fuels, more affordable and cleaner fuels for consumers, and better market access for producers.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On March 9, 2022, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Home Front Energy Independence Act that would ban Russian oil and replace it with the use of biofuels produced in the United States. This bill combines parts of past bills that would make ethanol 15 (E15) available year-round, establish an E15 and Biodiesel Tax Credit, direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize the E15 labeling rule, and provide biofuel infrastructure and compatibility with retailers:

Several Senators co-sponsored the bill, including Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Roger Marshall (R-KS0. Senator Klobuchar stated that this bill will help to hold Vladmir Putin accountable for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while also investing in affordable, readily available biofuels produce in the United States.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On March 10, 2022, EPA issued a notice of disclosure to all obligated parties under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program that have petitioned for a small refinery exemption (SRE) or that have submitted certain RFS compliance reports. EPA will disclose information that is claimed to be, or has been determined to be confidential business information (CBI) from May 21, 2021, through December 31, 2023, to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). These records include:

  • All materials submitted by small refineries as part of petitions;
  • Any documentation that the Department of Energy (DOE) provided to EPA stating DOE’s petition findings and scores and any EPA responses thereto;
  • Any EPA record addressing the subject of the exemption petitions; and
  • EPA’s final exemption decisions sent to refineries.

GAO will destroy, delete, or return to EPA all CBI claimed documents at the conclusion of its review.

Tags: EPA, DOE, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On March 22, 2022, DOE announced a $34.5 million funding opportunity to improve the science and infrastructure for converting waste streams into bioproducts and biofuels that can benefit the local energy economy. DOE Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Kelly Speakes-Backman, stated that “through this investment, we see an opportunity to support the bioeconomy and the equitable transition to a clean energy economy.” The FY22 Waste Feedstock and Conversion R&D Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) encourages the development of improved organisms and inorganic catalysts to support the next generation of low-carbon biofuels and bioproducts. This FOA has four topic areas:

  • Community Scale Resource and Energy Recovery from Organic Wastes;
  • Municipal Solid Waste Feedstock Technologies;
  • Robust Catalytic Processes; and
  • Robust Microbial Cells.

DOE will accept concept papers for this FOA until 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on April 18, 2022. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on June 7, 2022. Additional information on this FOA is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On March 23, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a webinar on “Biofuel Premanufacture Notices: New Chemical Risk Assessment and Applications of Tools and Models.” As reported in our January 24, 2022, blog item, in January 2022, EPA announced an effort to streamline the review of new biobased or waste-derived chemicals that could displace current, higher greenhouse gas (GHG)-emitting transportation fuels. EPA states that to support this effort, it is offering outreach and training to stakeholders interested in biofuels. According to EPA, the bi-weekly webinar series includes reviewing requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), outlining the streamlined approaches for risk assessments and risk management actions, and providing information on how to navigate the new chemicals premanufacture notice (PMN) process. EPA provided background and outlined the following challenges for each risk assessment conducted:

  • Chemistry Assessment:
    • Fuel stream and related substances are broad in number and scope, especially with the addition of current biobased and waste feedstock blends; they can be class 1, class 2, or chemical substances of unknown or variable composition, complex reaction products, and biological materials (UVCB) substances;
    • Many petroleum-derived fuel streams are on the original TSCA Inventory and there are very little data associated with them; and
    • Complete characterization of the new chemical substance is often unavailable;
  • Environmental Fate and Transport Assessment:
    • Analysis of constituents may not represent the properties of the new chemical substance;
  • Engineering Assessment: Environmental Releases:
    • EPA’s release assessment analyzes each manufacturing, processing, and use operation and determines the sources/activities that can result in releases to the environment. These release estimates are used to estimate exposure estimates for ecological and human receptors;
    • Examples of release data: (1) Measured release data; (2) Measured release data for a “surrogate” chemical; (3) Modeled release estimates; and
    • Release estimates have limitations -- examples:
      • Lack of appropriate model/method to estimate releases from specific industrial activities (e.g., storage tank emissions); and
      • Limitation in certain release models (e.g., limited to a vapor pressure threshold of 35 torr);
  • Engineering Assessment: Occupational Exposures:
    • The occupational exposure assessment estimates the magnitude, frequency, and duration of exposures to the new chemical substance at the workplace;
    • Worker inhalation and dermal exposures are expected throughout the lifecycle of the new chemical substance (e.g., manufacturing, processing, use); and
    • Exposure models do not account for some engineering controls (vapor capture/reduction);
  • Exposure Assessment: General Population and Consumer Exposures:
    • The occupational exposure assessment estimates the magnitude, frequency, and duration of exposures to the new chemical substance for the general population and consumers via inhalation and drinking water pathways; and
    • The confidence of the exposure estimates are affected by:
      • Assumptions, limitations, and areas of uncertainty in the fate and engineering analyses; and
      • Inherent uncertainties of the exposure parameters and assumptions for the estimation of the general population and consumer exposures;
  • Hazard Assessment:
    • Data on the new chemical substance or an analogous biofuel are preferred, but few submissions include toxicological or composition data;
    • EPA often lacks acute/chronic environmental test data on the new chemical substance and the analogous substances; and
    • There are challenges in performing read-across approaches and route-to-route extrapolations with analogous substances of variable composition.

For biofuel PMNs, EPA has started generating one report that combines the results of each of the above assessments. The final webinar in the series will be held April 6, 2022, on new chemicals risk management actions, including TSCA Section 5 orders and significant new use rules (SNUR).


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 16, 2022, the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on “Bioenergy Research and Development for the Fuels and Chemicals of Tomorrow.” According to the hearing charter, the purpose of the hearing was to examine the status of bioenergy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities carried out by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The hearing also considered advancements in bioenergy research and the potential role of this resource in a cleaner energy transition. Lastly, the hearing was intended to help inform future legislation to support and guide the United States’ bioenergy RD&D enterprise. Read more in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) March 18, 2022, memorandum, “House Committee Holds Hearing on Bioenergy RD&D for the Fuels and Chemicals of Tomorrow."


 
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