|Biobased and Renewable Products Update
|September 1, 2022
Next Generation Fuels Act Intends To Improve Engine Efficiency And Performance
On July 26, 2022, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Next Generation Fuels Act (S. 4621), which would aim to leverage higher-octane fuels to improve engine efficiency and performance. According to Grassley’s July 26, 2022, press release, allowing the sale of fuels with greater octane levels would increase the amount of ethanol that can be used in the fuel supply, in turn lowering prices at the pump for consumers. The press release states that due to ethanol’s high-octane rating, greater ethanol blends result in both additional fuel efficiency and significant greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction. Ethanol is also priced lower than gasoline, making it the most cost-effective octane source. Under the bill, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be required to carry out a study of the emissions effects of ethanol-blended fuels in light-duty vehicles and light-duty trucks, for the purpose of updating the Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator modeling system. The bill would establish a minimum research octane number (RON) standard of 98 for gasoline, which is higher than the typical octane rating of 91 RON today. It would also require sources of the added octane value to reduce carbon emissions by at least 40 percent compared to baseline gasoline. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.
Researchers Examine How Potassium In Biomass Feedstocks Poisons A Catalyst
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced on August 11, 2022, that a research team from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory investigated how potassium in biomass feedstocks poisons a catalyst. The research team simulated catalyst poisoning at different potassium levels to trigger deactivation during industrial operations. They then analyzed the catalysts and conducted kinetic measurements to determine how the catalysts’ ability to catalyze chemical reaction changed with the introduction of potassium. According to BETO, the team found potassium poisoning could be substantially mitigated with a developed regeneration method — a water washing process — that can successfully remove most of the loaded potassium, restoring more than 90 percent of the catalytic activities. More information is available in our August 23, 2022, blog item.
EPA Updates Safer Chemical Ingredients List, Adding 22 Chemicals And Changing The Status Of One Chemical
EPA announced on August 11, 2022, that it updated the Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL), “a living list of chemicals by functional-use class that EPA’s Safer Choice program has evaluated and determined meet the Safer Choice Standard.” EPA added 22 chemicals to the SCIL. EPA also changed the status for one chemical on the SCIL and will remove the chemical from the list in one year “because of a growing understanding of the potential health and environmental effects.” According to EPA, the chemical was originally listed on the SCIL based on data from a closely related substance that EPA marked with a grey square earlier this year. A grey square notation on the SCIL means that the chemical may not be allowed for use in products that are candidates for the Safer Choice label, and any current Safer Choice-certified products that contain this chemical must be reformulated unless relevant health and safety data are provided to justify continuing to list the chemical on the SCIL.
According to EPA, after this update is made, there will be 1,055 chemicals listed on the SCIL. EPA is committed to updating the SCIL with safer chemicals on a regular basis. EPA states that the SCIL is a resource that can help many different stakeholders:
- Product manufacturers use the SCIL to help make high-functioning products that contain safer ingredients;
- Chemical manufacturers use the SCIL to promote the safer chemicals they manufacture;
- Retailers use the SCIL to help shape their sustainability programs; and
- Environmental and health advocates use the SCIL to support their work with industry to encourage the use of the safest possible chemistry.
More information is available in our August 17, 2022, blog item.
EPA Calls For Nominations For 2023 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards
EPA announced on August 18, 2022, that it is accepting nominations for the 2023 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards from companies or institutions that have developed a new green chemistry process or product that helps protect human health and the environment. The awards again include a category to recognize technology that reduces or eliminates GHG emissions. Nominations are due to EPA by December 9, 2022. EPA anticipates giving awards to outstanding green chemistry technologies in six categories in fall 2023.
EPA states that green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation and use of chemicals that are hazardous to the environment and people’s health. According to EPA, its efforts to “speed the adoption of this revolutionary and diverse discipline” have led to significant environmental benefits, innovation, and a strengthened economy. Green chemistry aims to prevent pollution before it is created, making it the preferred approach for providing solutions to some of the most significant environmental challenges.
EPA New Chemicals Program Will Discontinue Use Of Exposure Modeling Thresholds When Assessing Health And Environmental Risks
EPA announced on August 22, 2022, that as part of its commitment to re-evaluate policies and practices under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) New Chemicals Program to ensure they adhere to statutory requirements and the Biden Administration’s executive orders and directives, it has updated its policy to discontinue the use of exposure modeling thresholds when assessing the health and environmental risks of new chemicals under TSCA. According to EPA, due in part to the automation of modeling, it has become less burdensome to complete these calculations. Furthermore, according to EPA, removing the thresholds supports President Biden’s Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” which calls on federal agencies to advance equity, including by reviewing and revising as needed government policies and programs impacting underserved communities.
The New Chemicals Program will implement this change by making minimal changes to the coding in the New Chemical Review application to remove the thresholds and will update standard operating procedures and training materials for exposure and human health risk assessors. EPA states that it will implement this policy change “as soon as feasible.” According to EPA, despite the resource challenges it is currently facing in the TSCA program, it anticipates that the change “will have minimal impact on the amount of time it takes to complete new chemical reviews and that the benefits gained from a more comprehensive accounting of all potential air and water releases will help ensure any needed protections are in place before a new chemical can come to market.”
More information and a detailed commentary that discusses thresholds of toxicological concern (TTC) are available in our August 22, 2022, memorandum.
USDA Accepting Applications For $100 Million In Biofuel Infrastructure Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on August 23, 2022, that USDA is accepting applications for $100 million in grants to increase the sale and use of biofuels derived from U.S. agricultural products. 87 Fed. Reg. 51641. The funding is available through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). The program seeks to market higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel by sharing the costs to build and retrofit biofuel-related infrastructure such as pumps, dispensers, and storage tanks. Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. (EST) on November 21, 2022.
Under HBIIP, USDA provides grants to transportation fueling and distribution facilities. These grants lower the out-of-pocket costs for businesses to install and upgrade infrastructure and related equipment. The $100 million will support a variety of fueling operations, including filling stations, convenience stores, and larger retail stores that also sell fuel. The funds will also support fleet facilities, including rail and marine, and fuel distribution facilities, such as fuel terminal operations, midstream operations, and distribution facilities, as well as home heating oil distribution centers.
The grants will cover up to 50 percent of total eligible project costs — but not more than $5 million — to help owners of transportation fueling and fuel distribution facilities convert to higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel. These higher blend fuels must be greater than ten percent for ethanol and greater than five percent for biodiesel.
Canada Calls For Proposals To Establish Biomass Supply Chains
On August 25, 2022, Natural Resources Canada (NRC) announced a call for project proposals to support the establishment of biomass supply chains to ensure that a steady and usable supply of sustainable feedstock is available to clean fuel production facilities across Canada. According to NRC, as a component of the Clean Fuels Fund, this dedicated biomass call includes three project streams that are expected to enable emissions reductions while benefiting communities, leveraging private-sector investments, creating jobs, and providing opportunities for Indigenous-led businesses and communities. Application is open to legal entities validly incorporated or registered in Canada, including not-for-profit and for-profit organizations such as:
- Electricity or gas utilities;
- Private-sector companies;
- Industry associations;
- Research associations;
- Standards organizations;
- Indigenous and community groups;
- Canadian academic institutions; and
- Provincial, territorial, regional, or municipal governments, or their departments or agencies where applicable.
Eligible projects include:
- Capital biomass supply chain projects that use technologies in advanced stages of technological readiness (TRL-9) and that are designed for commercial deployment; and
- Feasibility studies, basic engineering studies, and detailed front-end engineering studies to assess the new build or expansion of low carbon fuel production facilities. In addition, studies to assess the feasibility of establishing a regional biomass supply chain risk rating.
All projects must be completed by March 31, 2026. Projects could receive up to 50 percent of eligible costs to a maximum of $5 million in funding. Applications will be accepted until November 23, 2022, for non-Indigenous applicants. Indigenous applications will be received on a continuous intake basis until funding is no longer available.
“Green Chemistry Challenge Awards 2023 Overview Webinar” On September 28, 2022
Come learn about the 2023 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards program and the nomination process. This year the program will recognize winners in six categories, including: Greener Synthetic Pathways; Greener Reaction Conditions; The Design of Greener Chemicals; Specific Environmental Benefit: Climate Change; Small Business; and Academic.
Registration is open.
“Conference On The State Of The Science On Development And Use Of NAMs For Chemical Safety Testing” On October 12-13, 2022
EPA will hold the 2022 Conference on the State of the Science on Development and Use of New Approach Methods (NAM) for Chemical Safety Testing on October 12-13, 2022. Conference topics include:
- Variability and Relevance of Traditional Toxicity Tests;
- Evolution of Validation and Scientific Confidence Frameworks to Incorporate 21st Century Science; and
- Breakout groups discussing Variability of Traditional Toxicity Tests, Relevance of Traditional Toxicity Tests, and Feedback on EPA Scientific Confidence Framework.
EPA asks that attendees register for the NAMs conference before October 7, 2022. EPA notes that there will be limited availability in person at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and a virtual option will also be available.
“CompTox Chemicals Dashboard Training” On October 18, 2022
On October 18, 2022, EPA will provide training on the Computational Toxicology (CompTox) Chemicals Dashboard, which is part of a suite of databases and web applications developed by EPA to support the development of innovative methods to evaluate chemicals for potential health risks. The computational toxicology tools and data in the Dashboard help prioritize chemicals based on potential health risks. The training will offer information about the latest release of the Dashboard and how it can be used to gather actionable information about chemical properties and risks through case examples, demonstrations, and hands-on exercises. Registration is now open (attendees must register for the training portions individually):
- CompTox Chemicals Dashboard Virtual Training: Session 1 (Presentation and question and answer (Q&A)); and
- CompTox Chemicals Dashboard Virtual Training: Session 2 (Breakout Sessions).
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