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

Biobased and Renewable Products Update
August 8, 2019


EPA Improves Transparency For New Chemicals Review Program Under TSCA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 1, 2019, that it is making additional information about new chemical notices available on its website.  The new web page, “Statistics for the New Chemicals Review Program under TSCA,” allows users to view and search monthly updates for any active Premanufacture Notice (PMN), Significant New Use Notice (SNUN), and Microbial Commercial Activity Notice (MCAN) of interest by case number.  Users can also download a spreadsheet with a list of all active cases and each case’s status.
As reported in Bergeson & Campbell, L.L.C.’s (B&C) May 16, 2019, TSCA blog item, “EPA Updates Its New Chemical Statistics Web Page to Increase Transparency,” EPA previously presented only the number of cases in each step of the review process without identifying case numbers.  According to EPA, this enhancement supplements the existing status tables describing the received date, the interim status, and final determinations for each case reviewed by EPA since the amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) were passed in 2016.  The update also supports EPA’s ongoing efforts to review new chemicals submissions more efficiently “by proactively providing status updates to submitters.”  EPA notes that the tool will continue to keep confidential business information confidential. B&C has prepared a memorandum on EPA’s new web page, which can be accessed here.
DOE Announces Funding For Innovative Research Technologies For Trucks, Off-Road Vehicles, And The Fuels That Power Them
On July 29, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that $50 million of funding is now available for innovative research of technologies for trucks, off-road vehicles, and gaseous fuels research. Funded through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), “it is important our trucking industry has access to advanced technologies, such as electrification and fuel cells, as a way to move goods efficiently and economically,” stated Mark W. Menezes, Under Secretary of Energy. Given EERE’s successful track record in research and development (R&D) investments, this new funding opportunity reflects DOE’s continued push for gaseous fuels research, including natural gas, biopower, and hydrogen, as well as heavy-duty freight electrification and energy-efficient off-road vehicles. According to DOE, energy use by medium- and heavy-duty trucks consumes 25 percent of U.S. annual vehicle fuel use. Off-road vehicles account for 8 percent of the total energy consumed in the U.S. transportation sector. Emphasizing the importance of economic growth through the movement of goods, this funding opportunity is how DOE begins to prepare for a future where miles traveled by the freight sector will increase by 54 percent by 2050.
Toomey-Feinstein RESTORE Act Would Abolish Ethanol Mandate
On July 26, 2019, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) announced that he is working with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on the Restore Environmental Sustainability to Our Renewable Energy (RESTORE) Act. In an effort to end what Toomey describes as an “egregious form of corporate welfare that hurts the environment and drives up the cost of everything,” the RESTORE Act would abolish the corn ethanol mandate under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Toomey further argues that, because the RFS forces drivers to purchase billions of gallons of corn ethanol annually, it also harms the environment and causes prices to rise, not only of gasoline, but also of damaged engines and groceries. Calling for a phaseout of the ethanol mandate, the RESTORE Act focuses on transitioning to advanced, lower carbon fuels for the country’s transportation needs.
The RESTORE Act is not Toomey’s and Feinstein’s first attempt to abolish the corn ethanol mandate. In 2015, Feinstein and Toomey offered an amendment to the Keystone pipeline bill that would have repealed the corn ethanol mandate under RFS: the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015. This Feinstein-Toomey amendment suggested the same modifications the RESTORE Act now proposes and the language used to describe the need for these changes is similar in both Toomey’s July 2019 and Feinstein’s 2015 announcements. Using the exact same arguments that were used in 2015, the RESTORE Act demonstrates Toomey and Feinstein’s determination to abolish the corn ethanol mandate.


MDA Announces Grants To Expand Biofuel Access And Production
On August 6, 2019, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced four grants aiming to expand biofuel access and production to advance the state’s renewable energy efforts. Awarded to four recipients by MDA’s Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) Program, the grants total more than $500,000. One Bioenergy/Biochemical Pilot Project Grant was awarded, providing funding to advance bioenergy and biochemical production technology to a commercial scale. Three Biofuel Blending Infrastructure Grants were awarded to expand the use of blending infrastructure equipment in Minnesota. 


Utility Workers Announce Apprenticeship Program In The Renewable Energy Sector
On August 6, 2019, the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) announced its partnership with The Power for America Training Trust Fund (P4A) for the launch of a renewable energy specialist apprenticeship program. Certified by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the program aims at assisting individuals with a path to employment for highly demanded jobs in the renewable energy sector. Under this program, individuals will be taught specialized skills in the fields of solar generation, battery storage, and offshore and onshore wind. An earn-while-you-learn program, this two-and-a-half-year apprenticeship guarantees participants a job with a Michigan-based company. P4A is currently looking for more companies with which to form partnerships.

Other News

PlasticsToday, “A Visual Tour of Packaging and Products from Ocean Plastics, “Scientist Creates Bioplastic from Mango Peels and Seaweed, “European Scientists Call for EU Rethink of ‘Retrograde’ Gene-Editing Legislation
New Atlas, “Wormy Chemicals Used to Trick Crops into Protecting Themselves
Regulatory Focus, “Industry Groups Support FDA’s Latest Biosimilar Analytic Assessment Guidance
Financial Post, “EPA Chief Defends Biofuel Waivers in Meeting with Farm Senators – Sources