Biobased Products News and Policy Report
Biobased and Renewable Products Update
May 10, 2018
In Meeting With Senators, Trump Proposes Counting RINs From Ethanol Exports And Allowing Year Round Sales Of E15, Walks Back RIN Price Cap Proposal
On May 8, 2018, President Trump met with a group of Republican Senators and told them that he is considering allowing exported ethanol to count toward the volumes mandated by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). During this meeting, Mr. Trump also reiterated support for expanding sales of E15, and withdrew his verbal proposal to cap the price of RINs, which had been widely criticized by the ethanol industry. These announcements came after increasing concern about the future stability of the RFS after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently granted over two dozen hardship waivers to small refineries for 2017, a drastic increase from EPA’s prior practice of granting between six to eight hardship waivers annually.
The ethanol industry reacted favorably to some of these proposals, with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), releasing a statement thanking President Trump for rejecting the RIN cap and for his support of year round sales of E15. Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, stated: “Ensuring that E15 can be sold year round in states and regions where it is already approved will give advanced and cellulosic ethanol more opportunity to compete in the market in coming years. E15 reduces the price of gasoline by 5 to 15 cents per gallon, and it lowers tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions all year round. . . . BIO and its members continue to oppose unnecessary changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard. EPA has already provided unwarranted waivers to oil refiners that are destroying demand for all biofuels and undercutting industry investments. We thank Senators Grassley and Ernst for standing with us in opposition to the damaging proposal for a cap on RIN prices.” Mr. Trump’s proposal to allow RINs from exported ethanol to count towards mandated volumes under the RFS was greeted with more caution, with Erickson stating: “We remain concerned about the impact counting RINs from exported renewable fuels would have on the development of advanced biofuels and we look forward to working with the Senators to ensure the RFS continues to promote production and use of homegrown biofuels.” Kevin Skunes, President of the National Corn Growers Association, was also distrustful of this proposal, stating: “Offering RIN credits, which are supposed to be derived from a domestic renewable fuel use, for ethanol exports would threaten trade markets and impact corn farmers’ economic livelihoods.”
ABFA Files Petition Against EPA Over RFS Small Refinery Exemptions
On May 3, 2018, the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) announced that it had submitted a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to provide waivers from RFS requirements. Michael McAdams, President of ABFA, stated:
“We have seen reports that the number of small refinery exemptions recently granted for compliance years 2016 and 2017 have doubled compared to previous years. ABFA members are concerned that Administrator Pruitt is granting these exemptions in an arbitrary and capricious manner to undisclosed parties behind closed doors with no accountability for its decision-making process.”
“The news reports about these exemptions have had immediate and significant market impacts on the prices of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) for the biomass-based diesel (D4) and overall renewable fuel (D6) pools,” continued McAdams. “Dropping RIN prices disincentivize blending, causing economic harm to ABFA’s members and posing a threat to the integrity of the RFS program at large.
These concerns originated when a large oil refinery, Andeavor, was granted a hardship waiver, which is typically given to small refineries producing less than 75,000 barrels per day that suffer a disproportionate economic hardship from the cost of RFS compliance. For more information, see “Open Letter From Iowan Biofuel Producers Urges Protection Of RFS” on the BRAG blog.
DOE’s BETO And VTO Announce $12 Million In Available Funding For Co-Optima Projects
On May 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced a joint multi-topic funding opportunity for $12 million as part of the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) initiative. This collaborative research and development effort supports the research of fuel and engine innovation that maximize vehicle performance and fuel efficiency, and is accelerating the introduction of affordable, scalable, and sustainable biofuels and high-efficiency, low-emission vehicle engines. The current funding opportunity will prioritize research projects in the following areas: batteries and electrification; materials; technology integration and energy efficient mobility systems; energy-efficient commercial off-road vehicle technologies; and co-optimized advanced engine and fuel technologies to improve fuel economy. Concept papers are due May 29, 2018, and full applications are due July 13, 2018, through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Exchange website.
DOE To Award Up To $78 Million To Support Bioenergy Research
On May 3, 2018, DOE’s BETO announced four funding opportunities totaling up to $78 million to support early-stage bioenergy research and development. The Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) include:
BioEnergy Engineering for Products Synthesis (up to $28 million);
Efficient Carbon Utilization in Algal Systems (up to $15 million);
Process Development for Advanced Biofuels and Biopower (up to $20 million); and
Affordable and Sustainable Energy Crops (up to $15 million).
DOE Secretary of Energy Rick Perry stated that through these funding opportunities, “U.S. bioenergy resources, including algae, energy crops, and various waste streams, will be more efficiently and effectively converted into affordable biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts.” Letters of Intent for these FOAs are due May 30, 2018, and full applications are due June 27, 2018. More information is available on the BETO Funding Opportunities web page.
DOE To Sponsor Advanced Algal Systems Listening Session
On May 8, 2018, DOE’s BETO announced that it was sponsoring an Advanced Algal Systems Listening Session in Seattle, Washington on June 13, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is being held in conjunction with the 8th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels, and Bioproducts,
BETO states it is seeking feedback “from experts in algal biology, cultivation, and conversion on how to address early stage research and development barriers and opportunities for cost-competitive algal biofuels and bioproducts,” and the agenda will focus on “opportunities and challenges in integrating algal productivity and biomass yield improvements in scalable algae cultivation systems to achieve high yields.” The listening session aims to gather stakeholder input about challenges and opportunities related to cultivation strategies for improving productivity and yield; and improving algal biomass value. Registration and a draft agenda for the listening session can be found on the Algal Biofuels Strategy Workshops web page.
DOE Announces $3 Million In Funding For Two Biofuel And Bioproduct Projects Through BRDI
On May 9, 2018, DOE announced up to $3 million in funding for advanced biofuels, bioenergy, and biobased products available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI). This funding will go to two selected projects, with $1 million going to The University of Tennessee to develop an integrated biorefinery design that combines the production of liquid fuels and renewable chemicals, and $2 million funding a Northwestern University project to develop a rapid synthesis of next generation biofuels and bioproducts from lignocellulosic biomass. Both projects will lower the cost of production for biobased fuels and biochemicals, with a goal of resulting in less than $3 per gallon gasoline equivalent for advanced biofuels.
Jacor, LLC, EcoBioClean® Products Receive USDA BioPreferred Certification
EcoBioClean® 100 COSW with 95% biobased content;
EcoBioClean® Pipes/Tanks 103 CE with 95% biobased content;
EcoBioClean® Fresh Water 101 COFW with 95% biobased content;
EcoBioClean® Land 102 COL with 95% biobased content; and
EcoBioClean® Biological Waste 105 BW with 95% biobased content.
These products provide contamination cleanup solutions for crude oil spills and leaks, as well as lubricants, dispersants, cleaning solutions, tar, human waste, and more, in a variety of environments and temperatures. The USDA BioPreferred Program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and expanded by the 2014 Farm Bill, and provides third-party verification of a product’s biobased content. This program was created to increase the development, purchase, and use of biobased products.
USDA Seeks Comments On Proposed Rule For National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard
On May 4, 2018, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) proposed a rule to establish the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard mandated by Congress in 2016. 83 Fed. Reg. 19860. USDA states the standard will provide “a uniform way to offer meaningful disclosure for consumers who want more information about their food and avoid a patchwork system of state or private labels that could be confusing for consumers and would likely drive up food costs,” and is intended “to provide a mandatory uniform national standard for disclosure of information to consumers about the [bioengineered (BE)] status of foods.” Comments on the proposed rule must be received by July 3, 2018, and the announcement states that, due to the Congressionally mandated timeline for this rulemaking, the comment period will not be extended.
Labiotech.eu, “Where Does Brexit Leave European Biotech?”