|Biobased and Renewable Products Update|
|September 21, 2017|
On September 11, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt sent a letter to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in response to the request by Senator Whitehouse and four other Democratic Senators to explain Carl Icahn’s role in shaping the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. According to Pruitt, Icahn did not exercise excessive influence on the U.S. biofuels policy while acting as an advisor of President Trump. The letter states that Icahn was one of many advisors that Trump met with during his confirmation and no assurances were made regarding any substantive issue, including the point of obligation. Following an investigation into the e-mails of 39 of EPA’s senior leadership, EPA’s Office of Environmental Information (OEI) found no correspondence to or from Icahn or his company, CVR Energy, between February and August. A spokesman for Senator Whitehouse stated that the letter was being reviewed “for accuracy and to determine whether additional steps are warranted.”
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have linked changes in rainfall and other environmental stressors during crop growth to potential deleterious effects on biofuel production. The study demonstrates that the effect of weather conditions on crop yields can significantly impact the downstream processing of those crops for biofuel production. Researchers compared the production of biofuel from switchgrass harvested after a major drought to switchgrass harvested after normal precipitation. The switchgrass crop that experienced major drought conditions contained significantly higher levels of soluble sugar. During the pre-treatment process, however, the sugar was chemically altered to form imidazoles and pyrazines, which inhibited fermentation of the sugar into biofuel. The researchers proposed potential solutions to overcoming the issue, such as removing the soluble sugars before pretreatment or using microbial strains resistant to the toxic effects of imidazoles and pyrazines for fermentation. Overall the research highlights the need to develop sustainable biofuel production systems capable of mitigating the deleterious effect of stress, such as fluctuations in precipitation.
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) announced that on September 13, 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that introduces bioheating fuel tax credits and bioheating fuel tax requirements to three New York counties. The bill (S5422A) requires all home heating oil sold for use in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties on or after July 1, 2018, to contain at least five percent biodiesel (B5). Assemblyman Steve Englebright and Senator Phil Boyle sponsored the bill, which received broad support from a range of industry and environmental advocates. New York City, the largest municipal consumer of heating oil in the country, instituted a citywide two percent biodiesel requirement in 2012, which increases to five percent on October 1, 2017. With the new legislation, the entire New York City Metropolitan Area, representing approximately 70 percent of the state’s heating oil market, will have a five percent biodiesel blending requirement. NBB commended Governor Cuomo for signing the bill, stating that it will provide cleaner air for more New Yorkers and support local jobs in the clean energy sector.
On September 13, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced it is collaborating with Genève Aéroport to make flying more sustainable. Neste will be providing renewable jet fuel for aircraft operations from Genève Aéroport. The goal is for one percent of the jet fuel consumed annually at Genève Aéroport to be composed of renewable jet fuel by late 2018. The collaboration supports Neste’s growth strategy for renewables in applications outside road traffic fuels and Genève Aéroport’s ambitious goals to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
|■||AgWeek, “EPA: Thumbs-Up to ‘Energy Beet’ Idea”|
|■||Rueters, “China Set for Ethanol Binge as Beijing Pumps Up Renewable Fuel Drive”|
|■||Bio-On, “Glasses Go ‘Bio’. Partnership Between Bio-On and Kering Eyewear”|
|■||University of Illinois, “Airline Industry Could Fly Thousands of Miles on Biofuel from a New Promising Feedstock”|
University of Delaware, “A Sweeter Way to Make Green Products”