Biobased Products News and Policy Report – Update from Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

Biobased and Renewable Products Update

January 30, 2020


DOE Announces More Than $96 Million In Funding For Bioenergy R&D

On January 23, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of more than $96 million in funding for bioenergy research and development (R&D) in support of the U.S. bioeconomy. DOE’s funding efforts also align with its own goal to provide secure, affordable, and reliable domestic energy options for consumers and business. This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) aims to advance DOE’s Bioenergy and Technology Office’s (BETO) objectives of: (1) reducing the price of drop-in biofuels; (2) enabling high-value products from biomass or waste resources; and (3) lowering the cost of biopower. Topic areas within this FOA include:

  • Up to $8 million for scalable carbon dioxide (CO2) electrocatalysis technologies for generating chemical building blocks;
  • Up to $14 million for algae bioproducts and CO2 direct-air-capture and efficiency;
  • Up to $28 million for scale-up of bench applications of biofuel and bioproduct processes;
  • Up to $5 million for low-emission, high-efficiency residential wood heaters;
  • Up to $18 million for waste to energy strategies for a bioeconomy, including strategies for municipal solid waste, wet wastes, and municipal wastewater treatment;
  • Up to $15 million for biopower and products from urban and suburban wastes (North American Multi-University Partnership for Research and Education), with a focus on using plastic waste to make recycled products and to produce low-cost biopower; and
  • Up to $8 million for bio-restore — biomass to restore natural resources — to quantify the economic and environmental benefits associated with growing energy crops, with a focus on restoring water quality and soil health.

According to DOE’s FOA, the application process will consist of two phases: a concept paper and a full application. Phase one of the process (the concept papers) are due on March 5, 2020, and phase two (full applications) are due on April 30, 2020. Further details are available here.

DOE Releases FOA For Its H2@Scale Initiative

Also on January 23, 2020, DOE announced that up to $64 million will be available in funding to advance innovations that will build new markets for the H2@Scale initiative. H2@Scale is an initiative focused on exploring the potential for wide-scale hydrogen production and utilization in the United States to enable resilience and sustainability of the power generation and transmission sectors. The initiative’s goal is to align diverse multibillion-dollar domestic industries with domestic competitiveness and job creation. The funding will support transformational R&D and innovative hydrogen concepts that will encourage market expansion and increase the scale of hydrogen production, storage, transport, and use. According to DOE, the hydrogen and fuel cells industry represents the potential to enable resiliency, energy security, emission reductions, and economic growth across sectors in the United States. Topic areas for this FOA include:

  • Up to $15 million for advanced carbon fiber for compressed gas storage tanks to reduce cost by developing high-strength carbon fiber and scaling up to industry-relevant scales;
  • Up to $2 million for training and workforce development creating coordinated regional efforts to support the growing hydrogen and fuel cell industry;
  • Up to $10 million for fuel cell R&D and domestic manufacturing for medium- and heavy-duty transportation;
  • Up to $15 million for electrolyzer manufacturing R&D;
  • Up to $8 million for H2@Scale new markets R&D; and
  • Up to $14 million for H2@Scale new markets demonstrations in maritime and data centers.

Concept papers must be submitted on or prior to February 25, 2020, and full applications are due on April 20, 2020. Further information is available here.

DOE To Collaborate With IMSA

On January 24, 2020, as part of its sustainable transportation efforts, DOE announced a collaborative project with the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) to encourage the development of advanced fuels and efficient technologies in motorsports. Focused on vehicles at the racetrack, the collaboration was formalized by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that names the combined effort the Green Racing Program (GRP). GRP aims to emphasize the importance of promoting reduced greenhouse gases (GHG); clean, fast, and efficient vehicle technologies in motorsports competition; the improvement of vehicle performance; reduced exhaust pollutants; and improved fuel economy. DOE plans to contribute and showcase technologies developed by its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). In its announcement, EERE explains that despite GRP’s focus on racetrack vehicles, this collaborative project presents an opportunity for the aforementioned technologies to take center stage, preparing to (soon) meet the needs of vehicles driven by the fans themselves.

USDA Proposes Revisions To FSA Regulations

On January 27, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced that it is accepting comments on its proposed revisions to regulations implemented under the Federal Seed Act (FSA). The proposed rule includes revisions to seed labeling, testing, and certification requirements, including new eligibility standards and the recognition of current breeding techniques. Revised FSA regulations would add certain seed species to the lists of covered kinds of seed and update the lists to reflect current scientific nomenclature. In addition, the proposed revisions would update regulations related to seed quality, germination and purity standards, and acceptable seed testing methods. AMS’s aim is to align FSA regulations with current industry practices, harmonize FSA testing methods and industry standards, and clarify confusing or contradictory language in the existing regulations. As a result of these revisions, AMS expects that trade burden associated with interstate seed commerce would be reduced, encouraging compliance with state and federal laws. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted on or prior to March 27, 2020.

House Democrats Announce New Framework To Achieve Climate Resiliency

On January 29, 2020, Congressman Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) and other House Democrats unveiled a five-year, $760 billion investment framework to repair and upgrade the U.S. infrastructure to create jobs while reducing carbon pollution, improving safety, and supporting economic activity. Called the “Moving Forward Framework for the People,” the plan includes measures to increase climate resiliency and put the United States on a path toward zero carbon pollution from transportation. The House Democratic proposal outlines a number of major investments, which include repairs and upgrades to surface transportation, rail and transit systems, airports, ports and harbors, wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, brownfields, and broadband. According to Congressman Tonko’s press release, the proposed infrastructure framework would:

  • Bring existing infrastructure into a state of good repair and enable the completion of critical projects through long-term, sustainable funding;
  • Set a path toward zero carbon pollution from the transportation sector, creating jobs, protecting our natural resources, promoting environmental justice, and increasing resiliency to climate change;
  • Ensure a transportation system that is green, affordable, reliable, and efficient and provide access to jobs;
  • Provide safe, clean, and affordable water and wastewater services;
  • Prioritize the safety of the traveling public;
  • Help combat climate change by creating well-paying jobs in clean energy, investing in energy efficiency, and reducing GHG pollution;
  • Expand broadband Internet access, including adoption for unserved and underserved rural, suburban, and urban communities;
  • Modernize 9-1-1 public safety networks;
  • Create family-wage jobs using the Davis-Bacon Act and other strong worker protections; and
  • Support U.S. industries, including steel and manufacturing, through strong Buy America protections.

B&C Publishes Memorandum On The Sustainable Chemistry R&D Act Of 2019

On January 28, 2020, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) published a memorandum on the regulatory developments of the Sustainable Chemistry R&D Act of 2019 (Act), which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives late last year. The memorandum not only provides an overview of the proposed legislation, its implementation, and limitations, but also highlights the important milestones that could be achieved if the bill passes. The proposed bill seeks to broaden the support of efforts to move the chemical enterprise toward a sustainable economy and to leverage existing efforts across the federal government to seek effective new technologies that are also more sustainable than incumbent technologies. It will be important for stakeholders to review the proposed bill and consider any opportunities to engage with the working group to be created, as well as the member departments and agencies.


Biofuel Supply Chain Stakeholders Create Strategy For Liquid Fuels

On January 22, 2020, three trade associations announced the launch of a strategy to tackle the transition into 100 percent biofuels for heating oil in English and Irish homes. A United Kingdom (UK) based trade association, the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) has partnered with the Tank Storage Association (TSA) and the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA) to launch a future vision for liquid fuels, titled “Supply Chain Strategy for Liquid Fuels.” Detailing the necessary steps to achieve 100 percent biofuel use to replace heating oil in 1.5 million UK homes and 686,000 Irish homes, this liquid fuels strategy sets five key challenges to be addressed by the government in the following order:

  1. Encourage and support energy-efficient measures in the immediate term to improve the performance of buildings and their services. This method will reduce energy demand and cost for households’ use of technology.
  2. Support supply chain preparations to accept a 30 percent fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) and 70 percent kerosene blend fuel into existing installations by 2027, including an industry-led field trial built on work previously undertaken by OFTEC and the University of East Anglia.
  3. Support supply chain preparations to accept a low-carbon (0 percent fossil) liquid fuel by 2035 following a full evaluation of boiler and tank fleet and successful field trials of all possible future products that may come from the UK or European sources.
  4. Be actively involved in transitional communication work with consumers utilizing the relationships that the trade association members already have with consumers.
  5. Encourage UK-based and European suppliers to evaluate all new low-carbon/GHG fuels and technologies that are already being developed and coming to market, including gas to liquid (GTL), hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), e-fuels, and other liquid fuels made from waste materials.

Calling for support, the three associations stated: “Our industry is committed to creating a supply chain capable of distributing a 30% biofuel 70% kerosene blend from 2027 and 100% low-carbon liquid fuel by 2035. We are therefore calling on the Government to work together with industry to support and benefit rural communities across the country and set out a clear roadmap to the decarbonisation of heat, with regulation that will provide confidence to the market by providing a clear trajectory to work towards realising our future vision.”

Other News

Agri-Pulse, “Biofuels Groups Laud Court Ruling Striking Down SREs
The Western Producer, “Bigger, Better Crops Combat Climate Change
Cision PRWeb, “Powerizer Complete Earns Approval to Display USDA Certified Biobased Product Label across Four Distinct Categories
Bangkok Post, “Energy Ministry Keen to Maintain Subsidies for Biofuels

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