Biobased Products News and Policy Report

Biobased and Renewable Products Update

July 26, 2018

EPA

Wheeler Briefs Press On Future Of Biofuels Programs, Approves Sorghum Based Biofuel Pathways Under RFS 

On July 24, 2018, Andrew Wheeler, newly appointed Acting Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), held a briefing that outlined his plans for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  He plans on following Scott Pruitt’s work overhauling the policy, including counting ethanol exports toward annual biofuels quotas and bringing corn and oil groups together to overhaul the RFS system.  Wheeler also signed a final notice approving a variety of pathways for renewable fuel derived from sorghum, including biofuel and biodiesel.  The newly approved pathways meet greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction requirements to generate credits or Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels under the RFS program.  

EPA Must Reconsider Small Refinery Waiver For Ergon

On July 20, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Fourth Circuit) ruled that EPA must reconsider its denial of Ergon-West Virginia, Inc.’s (Ergon) application for a small refinery waiver under the RFS.  The Fourth Circuit stated that EPA relied on an “error-riddled” analysis when it denied the exemption.  Ergon is a small refinery based in West Virginia (with a daily production of 23,500 barrels) that produces primarily diesel which is not easily blended and sold in the local market.  The number of small refinery hardship waivers has jumped in recent years, with 48 waivers granted in 2016 and 2017, prompting outcry from the biofuel industry that the increased waivers undercut the RFS program.

USDA 

APHIS/USDA Prepare To Revise Regulations Pertinent To Genetically Engineered Organisms

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) signaled on late June 29, 2018, its intent to prepare a “programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) in connection with potential changes to the regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered [(GE)] organisms.”  The EIS will have a significant impact on how APHIS chooses to amend its regulation of GE organisms.  APHIS requested comment on issues to be considered in preparing the EIS, as well as how to define the scope of the alternatives and environmental impacts.  Comments are due July 30, 2018.  Our full memorandum provides some background, context, and a commentary regarding APHIS’ announcement.  

International

UK Considers Introducing E10 Fuel To Help Reach Emissions Goals 

On July 20, 2018, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Department of Transportation launched a consultation to explore the impact of introducing E10 fuel to the UK market.  Earlier this year, changes were made to the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) that requires transport fuel supplies to increase the amount of renewable fuel supplied in the UK beyond the current five percent ethanol blend, up to a limit of ten percent by 2032.  This plan is a component of the Road to Zero Strategy, announced on July 9, 2018, a commitment by the UK government to dramatically reduce transport emissions and move towards a zero emissions future.  The consultation is seeking views on: 

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Whether and how to introduce E10 petrol in the UK;

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The reintroduction of an E5 protection grade to ensure standard petrol remains available at an affordable price; and

The introduction of new fuel labeling at petrol pumps and on new cars.


Responses are being accepted through September 16, 2018.


Industry

Neste Explores Use Of Waste Plastic In Fossil Refining

On July 18, 2018, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) announced that it is exploring the use of waste plastic as a raw material in fossil refining, with a plan to start an industrial scale trial during 2019.  If successful, Neste could process one million tons of plastic waste annually by 2030.  The chemical recycling process uses “waste plastics as raw material for the refining and petrochemical industries to convert into end products such as fuels, chemicals, and new plastics.”  This method compliments traditional mechanical recycling by significantly increasing the possible uses of waste plastics and creating greater demand for chemical recycling in general.  To accelerate development, Neste is looking for partners across the value chain, including in waste management and upgrading technologies.


BRAG

BRAG Requests That EPA Adopt TSCA Inventory Representation And Equivalency For Renewable And Sustainable Biobased Chemicals

As previously reported, representatives of BRAG and representatives of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) met with EPA staff to discuss the two groups’ recently-issued white paper, “Proposal for a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory Representation and Equivalency Determinations for Renewable and Sustainable Bio-based Chemicals.”  BRAG and BIO members provided a presentation for EPA staff that outlined the regulatory challenges and market impedance facing the biobased industry related to current naming conventions.

BRAG and BIO have requested that EPA develop naming guidance for biobased substances and production sources because current resources are scant, scattered, and dated.  Creating comprehensive source- and process-agnostic naming guidance for these chemicals and adopting a constituent-based naming system would level the playing field for biobased chemicals and allow customers more freedom in selecting a greener chemical that is derived from a variety of renewable sources.  Any company or organization intending to market biobased products — whether they come from plants, algae, or restaurant waste — should read this white paper and join BRAG in the effort to create a more sensible regulatory approach.  For more information, please contact Kathleen Roberts, Executive Director of BRAG, at [email protected] or (202) 833-6581.


Other News

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Ethanol Producer, “Ernst Questions CEQ Nominee on RFS, Year-Round E15 Sales

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BusinessGreen, “Circular Car? Dutch Team Unveil Recyclable, Bio-Based Electric Vehicle

Attis Industries, “Attis Industries to Purchase Site for First Commercial Biorefinery

Tempo, “Govt to Expand the Use of Biodiesel 20

Georgia Tech News Center,Material Formed from Crab Shells and Trees Could Replace Flexible Plastic Packaging

 

ABOUT THE FIRM
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.

Biobased and Renewable
Products Advocacy Group
2200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Suite 100W
Washington, D.C. 20037
(202) 833-6580
www.braginfo.org