Biobased Products News and Policy Report
April 23, 2020
USDA Announces Relief Funding For Farmers And Ranchers, But Does Not Address Biofuels Industry Request For Assistance
On April 17, 2020, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary, Sonny Perdue, announced $19 billion to farmers and ranchers as part of its COVID-19 relief program. Aimed at providing critical support in maintaining the integrity of the U.S. food supply chain and ensuring that every American has access to the food needed, the funds will be used not only to directly support farmers and ranchers, but also for USDA purchase and distribution. The latter goal means that USDA will partner with regional and local distributors affected by the closure of businesses to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat. The distributors will then provide boxes of fresh food supplied to food banks and other non-profits serving Americans in need. The one element not mentioned in the use of the relief funds, however, was assistance for biofuel producers who are bearing the impact of decrease in consumption.
In early April, 15 U.S. Senators had submitted a bipartisan letter to Secretary Perdue, requesting the use of its authority to assist the biofuels industry’s economic circumstances brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlighting the negative impacts of the pandemic on farmers and producers who are suffering from the impact of the decrease in consumption, the letter asked that USDA consider the allocation of additional funds to assist the biofuels industry sector. Assistance would be helpful in the format of reimbursements for feedstocks and additional relief funds to the Higher-Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program to drive future biofuel demand. At the time, the 15 signatories of the letter seemed hopeful of receiving the aid requested and much needed. It seems as though USDA’s focus, however, is not geared toward addressing the biofuel industry’s request. According to an article, Secretary Perdue addressed this issue by stating that it is not within his authority to extend the aid to energy production and that USDA does not have a fundamental way to help the biofuels sector.
DOE Announces Funding For RAPID Manufacturing Institute Projects
On April 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Manufacturing Institute announced the availability of $4 million for five selected projects. The projects align with RAPID’s research focus areas in chemical and commodity processing, renewable bioproducts, natural gas upgrading, modeling and simulation, module manufacturing, and intensified process fundamentals.
Scientist Suggests Algae-Based 3D Printing For Habitation Structures In Space
In March 2020, a paper by master’s degree student Anastasia Prosina titled “Algae-Based Printer Ink as the Way to Foster In-Situ Resource Utilization in Habitation Structures” was published in ResearchGate. Prosina’s paper, submitted to Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA), proposes that the most feasible long-term habitat off-Earth will consist of a 3D printed mixture of algae and regolith, the layer of unconsolidated rocky material covering bedrock. Proposed as an alternative to building structures in space that require intensive mining and sifting, the 3D printed mixture can be cultivated in a lab controlled by biological media. In addition, “[t]he utilization of algae off-Earth is not limited to a singular application and its cultivation would allow for a substantial yield of products, and local micro and macro environmental benefits.” According to Prosina, because of the high protein in and natural thermostatic qualities of algae biomass, this new printing mixture would allow for easier and safer production of everyday consumables, including clothes. Prosina’s paper outlines the benefits and complications of algae production and utilization processes, concluding that algae has the best potential for establishing long-term habitation on the Moon and Mars.
Register Now For “Navigating The Jurisdictional Tightrope Between Biopesticides, Biostimulants, And Related Emerging Technologies” On April 29, 2020, 12:00 pm (EDT)
Register now for the American Bar Association (ABA) webinar “Navigating the Jurisdictional Tightrope between Biopesticides, Biostimulants, and Related Emerging Technologies,” with Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) professionals deconstructing the jurisdictional boundaries distinguishing pesticides, biopesticides, plant regulators, biostimulants, and related technologies. The webinar will focus on draft guidance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intended to clarify the lines between and among those products that are subject to FIFRA registration as plant regulators and those biostimulant products not subject to FIFRA registration. The webinar also will focus on new and evolving chemistry and technology issues that may blur some jurisdictional lines or potentially move products from one category to another. Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner, B&C; Lisa R. Burchi, Of Counsel, B&C; and Sheryl Lindros Dolan, Senior Regulatory Consultant, B&C, will present.
EPA’s OCSPP Will Host Webinars On Federal Opportunities In Research Triangle Park
EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) is hosting the following webinars to educate scientists on the more than 30 federal opportunities available in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina:
- Thursday, April 16, 2020, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EDT). Join the webinar;
- Thursday, April 23, 2020, 2:00 p.m.to 3:00 p.m. (EDT). Join the webinar; and
- Thursday, April 30, 2020, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EDT). Join the webinar.
Webinar participants will learn about OCSPP’s role in protecting human health and the environment, OCSPP’s newly formed worksite located in Research Triangle Park, and the more than 30 scientific positions for which OCSPP is recruiting. The webinar will also cover finding and applying to EPA jobs, creating profiles and saving searches on USAJobs, education and transcript requirements for scientific positions, and the federal general schedule (GS) pay scale, benefits, and retirement.
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