EPA Accepting Submissions For 2019 Safer Choice Partner Of The Year Awards
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on June 28, 2019, announcing that the EPA Safer Choice Program is accepting submissions for its 2019 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards. The Safer Choice Program partners with businesses and others to help consumers and commercial buyers identify products with safer chemical ingredients, “without sacrificing quality or performance.” Toward this end, according to EPA, the Safer Choice Program certifies products containing ingredients that have met the Program’s “specific and rigorous human health and environmental toxicological criteria.” The Safer Choice Program allows the use of its label on products that perform and contain safer ingredients, as determined by expert evaluation. According to EPA, recognition by the Safer Choice Program represents a high level of achievement in formulating products that are safer for people and the environment. EPA states that the purpose of the Partner of the Year Awards “is to recognize the leadership contributions of Safer Choice partners and stakeholders who, over the past year, have shown outstanding achievement in the design, manufacture, selection, and use of products with safer chemicals.” All Safer Choice stakeholders and Program participants in good standing are eligible for recognition. According to the notice, interested parties must inform the Program that they would like to be considered for an award and submit supporting information. Submissions are due July 31, 2019. EPA will recognize award winners at a Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards ceremony in fall 2019.
USDA To Amend Guidelines For Designating Biobased Products For Federal Procurement
On July 5, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Procurement and Property Management published a final rule that will amend the Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement (Guidelines) to add 30 sections designating the product categories within which biobased products would be afforded procurement preference by federal agencies and their contractors. These 30 product categories contain finished products that are made, in large part, from intermediate ingredients that have been designated for federal procurement preference. Additionally, USDA is amending the existing designated product categories of general purpose de-icers, firearm lubricants, laundry products, and water clarifying agents. The rule will be effective on August 5, 2019.
According to the final rule, when USDA designates by rulemaking a product category for preferred procurement under the BioPreferred Program, manufacturers of all products under the umbrella of that product category that meet the requirements to qualify for preferred procurement can claim that status for their products. To qualify for preferred procurement, a product must be within a designated product category and contain at least the minimum biobased content established for the designated product category. With the designation of these specific product categories, USDA invites manufacturers and vendors of qualifying products to provide information on the product, contacts, and performance testing for posting on its BioPreferred website. USDA states that procuring agencies will be able to use this website “as one tool to determine the availability of qualifying biobased products under a designated product category.”
For further information, see Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s memorandum on the final rule. In the memorandum, we link to the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) and its interest in biobased products.
Wheeler Announces Proposed Rule To Set RVOs For 2020
On July 5, 2019, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a proposed rule to set the minimum amount of renewable fuels that must be supplied to the market in 2020, as well as the biomass-based diesel volume standard for 2021 under the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) program. The notice means that EPA is on target to publish the final RFS Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) on time. In Wheeler’s announcement, he highlights that its timeliness contrasts with the Obama Administration’s failure to release RVOs by the date Congress set forth. Despite Wheeler’s timeliness, however, EPA has been highly criticized by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and politicians who have demonstrated opposition to the set RVOs. Details on the proposed RVOs for 2020 can be found here.
CARB Approves Rule Requiring Transition To
Zero-Emission Airport Transport Vehicles
On June 27, 2019, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a rule requiring the gradual transition of fixed-route airport shuttles into 100 percent zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) by 2035. Applied to public and private shuttles that serve the state’s 13 largest airports, including rental car agencies, hotels, and parking facilities, the regulation was approved with an expectation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 500,000 metric tons. According to CARB, the regulation will also benefit shuttle fleet owners through an estimated $30 million in reduced fuel and maintenance costs. Currently, six airports and private businesses serving nine airports already have zero-emission shuttles operating in the state. This new rule presents “a great opportunity for showcasing this process,” stated CARB Executive Officer, Richard Corey. CARB states that airport shuttles are well-suited to zero-emission technology because they operate on short, fixed routes up to 200 miles per day with low average speeds in a stop/go pattern. When operating in this manner, ZEVs are advantageous from an energy and fuel efficiency perspective. The rule will require annual reporting of vehicles to CARB in 2022, and end in 2035 with full compliance of ZEV airport shuttles.
U.S. Senator John Kennedy Submits Letter To USDA Secretary On SRE
On June 27, 2019, U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) submitted a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue asking him to stop threatening energy jobs in Louisiana. In his letter to Secretary Purdue, Senator Kennedy outlines concerns related to Small Refinery Exemptions (SRE) issued by EPA under the RFS program. Of particular concern to Senator Kennedy are reports that Secretary Purdue continues to attempt to influence EPA decisions on small refinery waivers, despite clear measures in the Clean Air Act that prohibit him to do so. Senator Kennedy states that Secretary Purdue’s “efforts in this matter not only disregard congressional intent of the law, bur also threaten thousands of jobs in Louisiana and across the country.” While emphasizing consistency to statutory requirements, Senator Kennedy also highlights his opposition to EPA’s proposal to increase the total blending requirement in the reset rule or 2020 RVO rule. Arguing that increases of the blending requirements or changes to SRE would affect Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) prices, and therefore, jobs, Senator Kennedy ends the letter by threatening to block Secretary Purdue’s three USDA nominees awaiting confirmation before the Senate.
U.S. Senators Express Concerns About RFS Program To President Trump
On June 28, 2019, 13 U.S. Senators signed a letter to President Donald J. Trump expressing concerns about media reports that USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue is attempting to influence EPA decisions on small refinery waivers under RFS. Similar to the letter submitted to Purdue himself by Senator Kennedy, the 13 Senators express opposition to Secretary Purdue’s involvement in the SRE waivers decision-making process. Also referencing the Clean Air Act and its statutory requirements, the letter urges President Trump to prohibit Secretary Purdue from influencing or interfering with decisions concerning SRE by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The view expressed in the letter is that “any decisions to further delay, reduce, or deny hardship relief to small refineries, or reallocate the obligations of small refineries to other refineries,” would be the result of Secretary Purdue’s impermissible interference. The letter notes that federal courts would likely view any of the outlined attempts in the same way.
Canadian Government Launches Plastics Challenge For The Development Of Biobased Foam Insulation
On June 27, 2019, the Government of Canada’s Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) opened the application process for a grant to develop next generation biobased foam insulation products. Called the Plastics Challenge, this funding opportunity seeks solutions that result in foam insulation products (either spray foam or rigid foam board) that:
- Are predominantly derived from
Canadian forest residue;
- Have similar insulation values
(within 20 percent) as currently available petroleum-based versions;
- Would have similar cost (within
20 percent) as currently available versions;
- Are less flammable;
- Are fully recyclable at end of
- Would generate less GHG emissions during manufacturing.
Applications must be submitted prior to 2:00 p.m. (EDT), August 27, 2019.
|■||Youris.com, “Surfing on Bio-based Boards”|
|■||Green Car Congress, “Researchers in Netherlands Exploring Use of Lignin as Alternative Asphalt Binder”|
|■||Asian Scientist, “Supercharging Bacterial Biofuel Production”|
|■||The Express Tribune, “Biofuels Can Help Reduce Current Account Deficit“|
|■||MediaPost, “Huggies Launches Partially Plant-Based Diaper with Black Packaging”|
|■||The Independent, “Pete Ricketts, Ethanol Board Express Disappointment in EPA’s RFS Volumes Proposal”|
|■||AllAfrica, “Mozambique: Major Increases in Yields from Genetically Modified Maize”|
Biobased and Renewable
Products Advocacy Group
2200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037