Biobased Products News and Policy Report – Update from Bergeson & Campbell, PC

Biobased and Renewable Products Update

March 21, 2019


EPA Releases List Of High-Priority And Low-Priority Chemicals

On March 21, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was releasing a list of 40 chemicals to begin the prioritization process required by the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  84 Fed. Reg. 10491.  New TSCA requires EPA to designate 20 chemicals as “high-priority” for subsequent risk evaluation and 20 chemicals as “low-priority,” meaning that risk evaluation is not warranted at this time.  The 20 high priority candidate chemicals include:


Seven chlorinated solvents;
Six phthalates;
Four flame retardants;
Formaldehyde (which has been studied by EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program for many years);
A fragrance additive; and
A polymer pre-curser.

EPA is also currently determining whether to conduct a risk evaluation of two additional phthalates.  The 20 low priority candidate chemicals have been selected from EPA’s Safer Chemicals Ingredients List, which includes chemicals that have been evaluated and determined to meet EPA’s safer choice criteria.

Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, stated that initiating a chemical for high or low prioritization “does not mean EPA has determined it poses unreasonable risk or no risk to human health or the environment,” however.  EPA states that is it releasing this list “to provide the public an opportunity to submit relevant information such as the uses, hazards, and exposure for these chemicals.”  Comments are due June 19, 2019.  EPA has opened a docket for each of the 40 chemicals; the dockets numbers are listed in the Federal Register notice.  EPA is directed to complete the prioritization process in the next nine to 12 months.

Please be on the lookout for the Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) memorandum that will contain more information regarding EPA’s list.  It will be posted on our Regulatory Developments webpage.

Fuel Choice And Deregulation Act Introduced In Senate

On February 27, 2019, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act of 2019 (S. 581).  The legislation would remove “burdensome” regulations on domestic energy production.  The bill “provides new economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers by allowing fuel producers and automobile manufacturers to innovate and bring new products to market that will lower costs for consumers, increase domestic energy production, and protect the environment,” said Senator Paul.  The Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act would remove regulations blocking higher ethanol blends, such as gasoline blended with up to fifteen percent ethanol (E15), from entering the marketplace.  It also removes the requirement for EPA certifications on aftermarket vehicle conversions.  The bill specifically would reform Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements by allowing higher blend levels of ethanol to exceed the current 9.0 pounds per square inch (psi) standard, and it prevents EPA from regulating biomass fuel.  RVP is a measure of how quickly fuel evaporates into the atmosphere. EPA regulates RVP in conjunction with ozone emissions in the summer months.  Congress previously directed EPA to issue a “one pound waiver” for ethanol blends of ten percent, allowing E10 to be sold at 10.0 psi.  Last year, President Trump signed an executive order directing EPA to look into the possibility of allowing year-round sales of E15.  This bill extends the Congressional waiver to higher blends of ethanol, including E15.

EPA Announces Public Hearing On Modifications To RFS RIN Market Regulations

On March 18, 2019, (EPA) announced a public hearing to be held for the proposed rule: “Modifications to Fuel Registrations to Provide Flexibility for E15: Modifications to RFS RIN Market Regulations.”  84 Fed. Reg. 9734.  The proposed rule would implement regulatory changes allowing E15 to take advantage of a Renewal Fuels Standard (RFS) program waiver. Currently, the 1-psi Raid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver only applies to ten percent ethanol (E10) during the summer months. The proposed rule also includes an interpretative definition of E15 gasoline as “substantially similar” to the fuel used to certify Tier 3 motor vehicles.  Lastly, EPA is also proposing changes to some RFS compliance system elements that would improve renewable identification number market functioning and prevent market manipulation.  The public hearing will take place in Ypsilanti, MI, on March 29, 2019.  The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on March 21, 2019.  84 Fed. Reg. 10584. Comments are due by April 29, 2019.

DOE Biomass R&D Committee To Hold Open Meetings

On March 18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an open meeting of the Biomass Research and Development (R&D) Technical Advisory Committee.   84 Fed. Reg. 9769.  The meeting will take place in Arlington, Virginia, on March 27 – 28, 2019, and will include discussions on developing advice and guidance promoting R&D leading to the production of biobased fuels and products.  The tentative agenda includes updates not only on DOE Biomass R&D activities, but also on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biomass R&D activities.  Presentations from government and industry can also be expected to provide insight on the intersection of forest health and bioenergy growth.  DOE will allow oral statements to be made during the meeting and will also be accepting written comments either before or after the meeting.  Meeting minutes will be available for public review and copying on the Biomass Board’s website.

APHIS BRS Announces Delayed Launch Of Updated Permitting System

On March 19, 2019, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) announced the delay of the spring release for BRS’ updated permitting system in APHIS eFile.  The release is now expected to occur in mid-summer 2019, with periodic updates provided by APHIS BRS as the anticipated release approaches.  In its announcement, APHIS BRS highlighted its commitment to bringing a permitting system that takes advantage of USDA’s current capabilities and brings new features previously not available.


University Of Utah Researchers Uncover New Technique For Algal Lipid Extraction

In February 2019, the University of Utah published the article Algal lipid extraction using confined impinging jet mixers.  The article outlines the University of Utah engineers’ latest discovery of a new method for rapid lipid harvesting which is essential to energy parity for microbial derived biofuels.  This newly developed technique is not only faster but also more efficient, and uses confined impinging jet mixers (CIJM) to improve lipid extraction from microalgae.  CIJMs extract lipids rapidly and continuously creating a multistage unit operation of mixers that enhances microbial biofuel production.

Other News


CNBC, “Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry ‘Absolutely’ Would Talk with Ocasio-Cortez About Green New Deal
Reuters, “Malaysia Threatens WTO Challenge to EU’s Move to Drop Palm Biofuel
CompositesWorld, “Bio4self Bio-based Autocomposite Wins JEC Innovation Award
Feedstuffs, “EPA’s RFS Waivers Cut Corn Demand by 900m bu.
NCSU News, “Transcription Factor Network Gets to Heart of Wood Formation
NHK World-Japan, “Panel May Propose Rules on Genome-Edited Food
Plastics Technology, “Braskem Moves Closer to Developing ‘Green’ PET
Winona Daily News, “Rep. Greg Davids:  The EPA Needs to help Minnesota Farmers, “Cricket Bacteria Break Down Lignin, Highlighting Ecology’s Utility in Applying R&D
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