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 By  Lynn L. Bergeson
 
On June 7, 2021, Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm launched the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Earthshots Initiative. Designed to accelerate innovation of abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions within the next ten years. Secretary Granholm stated that the first Energy Earthshot will be the Hydrogen Shot, which sets an ambitious yet achievable cost target to accelerate innovations and spur demand of clean hydrogen.” The Hydrogen Shot aims to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80 percent to $1 per kilogram (kg) while also creating more clean energy jobs. Currently, clean hydrogen costs approximately $5 per kg. This initiative will drive program development across DOE’s science and applied energy offices, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
 
DOE’s Hydrogen Program issued a Request for Information (RFI) on viable hydrogen demonstrations that can help to lower the cost of hydrogen, reduce carbon emissions, create jobs, and provide benefits to disadvantaged communities. Topics for the RFI include:

  • Hydrogen Production, Resources, and Infrastructure;
  • End Users for Hydrogen Based on Specific Regions, Cost, and Value Propositions;
  • Greenhouse Gas and Other Pollutant Emissions Reduction Potential;
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Jobs, and Environmental Justice; and
  • Science and Innovation Needs and Challenges.

RFI responses are due on July 7, 2021, by 5:00 p.m. (EDT). Additional information about the RFI is available here.


 

By  Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
 
On May 4, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory published an article titled “Retrospective Analysis of the U.S. Corn Ethanol Industry for 2005-2019: Implications for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions.” Using a life-cycle analysis (LCA), researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory quantified the life cycle of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of fuels to compare relative GHG impacts among different fuel production pathways. According to the retrospective analysis conducted, since 2000, corn ethanol production in the United States quadrupled due to supportive biofuels policies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Consequently, carbon intensity (CI) over the past 15 years has significantly decreased by 23 percent. Since 2000, the corn ethanol production pathway, including corn farming and biorefineries, has substantially evolved. Researchers state in the article that this shift into more efficient farming and biorefinery practices increases revenue while also potentially reducing the emission burdens of ethanol production. DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory researchers conclude that biofuels, including corn ethanol, can and likely will play a key role in decarbonizing the U.S. economy.
 
The article’s findings will also be used by DOE to update key corn ethanol parameters in the Argonne National Laboratory’s Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Technologies (GREET) Model 2021, which will be released in October 2021.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 18, 2020, U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) introduced a bipartisan, bicameral legislation that aims to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and encourage low-carbon fuel production. Titled “The Streamlining Advanced Biofuels Registration Act,” this bill would eliminate existing barriers for biofuels plants to increase production of cellulosic biomass into renewable fuels. Representative Bustos criticized the lack of timely response from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), adding that through this bill, “we can encourage the use of cellulosic biomass in low-carbon, renewable fuel production and continue to create cleaner, more environmentally-friendly fuels.” The legislation would ensure that EPA acts on outstanding applications under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and compel EPA to accept applications if the fuel could participate in at least one state’s clean transportation program. Biofuels industry stakeholders have demonstrated support for the bill.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 20, 2020, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives the Zero-Emission Vehicles At of 2020 (the Act). The Act would amend Part A of Title II of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to create a federal national zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standard and address climate change by ending U.S. sales of new gasoline-powered vehicles in 2035. Senator Merkley and Representative Levin’s standard aims to boost the market for battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Sponsored by four other Senators and an additional 15 Representatives, the ZEV standard has also been criticized by conservatives and biofuels industry stakeholders. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) stated that Iowans should not “allow coastal state lawmakers to dictate to Middle America how to live [their] lives or take away the freedom to choose what kind of car to buy.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The government of Manitoba, Canada, is currently working to amend three regulations under the Biofuels Act. The amendments will update Manitoba’s clean fuel standards by increasing the ethanol and renewable fuel content in gasoline. The proposed amendments include:

  • “Ethanol General Regulation is amended to:
     
    • Include the latest fuel standards for ethanol blended gasoline;
       
    • Remove the quarterly reporting requirements of obligated entities; and
       
    • Increase ethanol content from 8.5% to 10%.
       
  • Biodiesel Mandate for Diesel Fuel Regulation is amended to:
     
    • Increase renewable fuel content of diesel from 2% to 5%;
       
    • Adjust the compliance formula to reflect the 5% blending requirement; and
       
    • Adjust the shortfall calculation to reflect the 5% blending requirement, and to increase the penalty amount from $0.45 to $1.50 per litre.
       
  • Biodiesel (General) Regulation is amended to:
     
    • Repeal the definition of “non-commercial licence;
       
    • Include the latest fuel standards for biodiesel and renewable diesel sold or offered for sale in Manitoba;
       
    • Include the latest fuel standards for biodiesel blends eligible under the Biodiesel Mandate;
       
    • Remove the non-commercial biodiesel manufacturing licence class;
       
    • Clarify the conditions required to hold a commercial biodiesel manufacturing licence; and
       
    • Remove references to the non-commercial licence class.”
       

The primary public policy objective of Manitoba’s government is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while increasing renewable fuels use. The regulatory amendments will come into force on January 1, 2021.


 

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

This June, the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis released a report titled “Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America.” Providing a road map for Congress to follow, the action plan has three main goals:

  • Reaching 100 percent clean, net zero emissions economy-wide in the U.S. by 2050;
     
  • Establishing ambitious interim targets to assess progress and reduce pollution in environmental justice communities; and
     
  • Achieving net-negative emissions during the second half of the century.

The action plan consists of a comprehensive set of policy recommendations for Congressional action aggressively to reduce carbon pollution as quickly as possible while making communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change and building a clean energy economy. Successfully implemented, the Select Committee’s action plan would at minimum:

  • Reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions before 2050;
  • Reduce net U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 37 percent below 2010 levels in 2030 and 88 percent below 2010 levels in 2050;
  • Avoid 62,000 premature deaths annually by 2050; and
  • Provide almost $8 trillion in cumulative climate and health benefits through 2050.

The Climate Crisis Action Plan calls on Congress not only to grow the U.S. economy and put Americans to work in clean energy jobs, but also to protect family health, protect U.S. land and waters for the next generation, and ensure that communities and farmers can withstand climate change impacts. The full report is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 4, 2020, USDA announced that it is now accepting comments on its technical guidelines and science-based methods to quantify greenhouse gas (GHG) sources and sinks from the agriculture and forest sectors at the entity-scale. USDA intends to update the technical guidelines based on newly available data and methodologies within the next three years. Interested parties must submit comments on or prior to April 20, 2020.

Tags: USDA, GHG

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Green Building Council Massachusetts (USGBC) recently published its 2019 Report titled Zero Energy Buildings in Massachusetts: Saving Money from the Start. The report assesses zero energy (ZE) upfront building costs, model performance, and life-cycle costs in Massachusetts (MA). Local MA leaders have been working to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce energy use in the built environment. This work has been done by retrofitting existing buildings and constructing new buildings to achieve ZE standards. Although many stakeholders and decision-makers cite high costs as the primary barrier for ZE buildings, USGBC reports that many types of ZE buildings can be constructed without an upfront cost. Also according to the report, some commercial buildings may even see return on investment in as little as one year. Key findings and policy recommendations are outlined, accompanied by examples that can be used as a template to overcome the ZE building barriers often encountered. The full report can be accessed here.


 

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

On September 17, 2019, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) chaired a hearing to discuss the use and sourcing of minerals needed for clean energy technologies. Highlighting the fact that renewable technologies such as batteries and wind turbines are built from minerals, Senator Murkowski stated that “[t]he United States is capable of being a leader in the development of the minerals needed for clean energy technologies.” As Chairman for the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, she further argued that for this to be achieved, the production, manufacturing, and recycling of minerals must expand to rebuild a robust domestic supply chain. In her opening statement, Senator Murkowski announced the release of a report by the Congressional Research Service. The report summarizes analyses of the quantity of materials needed to meet renewable and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission goals. The report includes an analysis of a World Bank Group (WB) study, which forecasts that demand for certain minerals will increase under an aggressive scenario to limit warming. The other two analyses in the report consist of DOE critical mineral demand projections and a gross domestic product (GDP) electricity demand study by Halada et al.

Tags: GHG, Report

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

This month, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, published its 2019 Sustainability Report titled The Future Is Clean. In its 2019 report, ACI outlines its sustainability goals, which include increased transparency, the reduction of GHG emissions, and the move toward a circular global economy. As part of its activities to achieve such goals, ACI has worked on filling knowledge gaps, harnessing power in the power of convening, uniting for a cleaner world, and further developing its sustainability organizations. In its report, ACI also highlights its support for the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how its future goals can positively contribute to the SDGs.

Managed by B&C® Consortia Management (BCCM), BRAG is a consortium of international and well-respected member organizations and companies engaged in the development of biobased or renewable chemical products. BRAG members recognize the importance of advocacy, education, and communication. For further information, see the BRAG webpage on membership.


 
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