The Biobased and Renewable Products Update Will Not Be Published on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2017. It Will Resume Regular Publication on November 30, 2017.
EPA Close To Issuing In Final 2018 And 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard Volumes
On October 31, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent its final rule to set the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for 2018 and 2019 to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA must issue a final rule to set standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel by November 30, 2017. Typically, OMB review is the last step before the final rule is published in the Federal Register and takes 30 days. Timely issuance of the final volume requirements is critical for preventing uncertainty in the biofuel industry. In previous years, delays in the establishment of volume requirements resulted in a decrease in production and investments in the biofuel industry.
Many in the biofuels industry were concerned with the proposed reduction in the amount of renewable fuel, compared to previous years. In an October 19, 2017, letter to Republican Senators, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt indicated that the final Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) amounts would be set at levels equal to or greater than the proposed amounts. More information on the proposed requirements is available in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group’s (BRAG®) blog post, “EPA Publishes Proposed 2018 RFS Requirements.”
Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program Accepting Applications
On November 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) issued a statement soliciting applications for its Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program. The program aims to support the generation of new information that will assist federal regulatory agencies in making science-based decisions about the effects of introducing genetically engineered (GE) organisms, including microorganisms, into the environment. Exploratory research that relates specifically to federal regulatory needs is preferred. USDA anticipates approximately $3.5 million in funding will be available for 2018 grants. Applicants must submit a letter of intent by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on December 21, 2017. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on February 22, 2018.
DOC Announces Affirmative Final CVD Determination For Argentina And Indonesia
On November 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) issued affirmative final determinations in the countervailing duty (CVD) investigations of imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia. Following a nine month investigation, DOC determined that Argentina and Indonesia are providing unfair subsidies to its producers of biodiesel at rates from 71.45 to 72.28 percent and 34.45 to 64.73 percent, respectively. As a result, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will collect cash deposits from importers of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia based on the final rates.
Following DOC’s final determination, the International Trade Commission (ITC) will make its final determination within 45 days. According to Argentine President Mauricio Macri, the Argentine government would appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) if the DOC follows through on the duties on Argentine biodiesel.
Neste Announces Collaboration With American Airlines
On November 13, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, announced it has entered into an agreement with American Airlines to explore opportunities to reduce the airline’s environmental footprint. To achieve this goal, the companies are evaluating in-flight and on-the-ground opportunities to utilize Neste’s renewable fuels. One aspect of the collaboration will involve complementary efforts to facilitate acceptance and commercialization of High Freeze Point HEFA (HFP-HEFA) renewable jet fuel, which is currently under consideration for approval by the American Society for Testing and Materials’ (ASTM) International. According to Kaisa Hietala, Neste’s Executive Vice President of Renewable Products, both companies “share a common view that innovative low-carbon solutions are needed to help the aviation industry meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, and renewable jet fuel is an important part of the solution.” Neste’s renewable jet fuel is made from renewable and sustainable raw materials, and provides aircraft engine performance, and storage stability and integrity.
Grain, Ethanol Industry Send Letter To U.S. Trade Representative On Brazil Ethanol Tariff
On November 14, 2017, the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition announced that grain and ethanol industry stakeholders, including the U.S. Grains Council, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), and Growth Energy, sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer to request that the U.S. suspend Brazil’s designated country status as a result of a 20 percent tariff on ethanol exports to Brazil. The tariff is to be assessed on all current and future imports of ethanol exceeding a 159-million-gallon quota. Since the U.S. exports nearly 500 million gallons of ethanol to Brazil, the tariff would apply to imports of U.S. ethanol despite an agreement between Brazil and the U.S. regarding zero-duty tariffs for ethanol. In the letter, industry representatives indicate their intent to file a petition for a suspension of Brazil’s status in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which requires WTO member countries to treat imports from all other WTO member countries as those countries would treat their most-favored trading partners. The letter states that given “their protectionist and market distorting actions in implementing a tariff rate quota that affects imports of U.S. ethanol, and pursuant to their obligations under 19 U.S. Code 2462, we believe that Brazil is no longer eligible for GSP trade benefits.”
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The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased 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.
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