September 19, 2013

USDA Announces Funding For Advanced Biofuels

USDA is continuing its work to promote the U.S. biofuels industry, which USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack believes helps bolster the U.S. agriculture sector and rural economy. On September 12, 2013, USDA announced that it will provide a total of $15.5 million to 188 advanced biofuel producers under USDA's Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which was created under the 2008 Farm Bill (P.L. 110-234, the "Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008"). It is reported that through...
September 19, 2013

FAA Announces Funding For Biofuels

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that it will provide $40 million for a Center of Excellence (COE) on sustainable aviation fuel and the environment. The funds will be distributed in $4 million increments each year for the next ten years. Washington State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be leading the effort, and several other universities will be involved. For a full list of participants and more information on the initiative,...
September 13, 2013

National Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo

This week, the National Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo was held in Omaha, Nebraska. During the three-day conference, industry leaders presented on and discussed major issues facing the industry, from legal considerations to advancing the aviation biofuels industry, supply, and feedstock successes and challenges. During the conference, Michael McAdams, President of the Advanced Biofuels Association, and Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, discussed some of their current federal...
September 13, 2013

EU Votes To Cap Food-Based Biofuels

On Wednesday, September 11, 2013, the European Parliament voted 356-327 to cap conventional biofuels at six percent of the European Union's (EU) transportation fuel by 2020 due to food-versus-fuel concerns. It also voted to require that 2.5 percent of EU transportation fuel consist of advanced biofuels by 2020, and to target that fuel to contain a 7.5 percent ethanol blend. The legislation does not require that indirect land use change be taken into account until...
September 13, 2013

Farm Bill

Congress returned from its August recess this week, and, as expected, the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives is looking toward passing legislation on the remaining nutrition portion of the Farm Bill, including $40 billion in cuts to food stamp programs over the next ten years. The bill could come up for a vote next week. House Republican leaders, including House Committee on Agriculture Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK), have stated they do not...
September 13, 2013

RFS Reform Efforts Continue

The group of four House Energy and Commerce Committee Members tasked with examining ways to reform the federal RFS met this week for the first time since the August recess. The group was named by Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) and includes Representatives John Shimkus (R-IL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Lee Terry (R-NE), and Steve Scalise (R-LA). Reportedly, the group is looking at potential proposals that could be released this fall. In general, the biofuels industry...
September 13, 2013

EPA Inspector General Faults RIN Fraud Oversight

On September 6, 2013, EPA's Office of the Inspector General (IG) issued a report finding that the Agency does not meet the control standards for monitoring some of the new programs and activities designed to prevent and reduce instances of fraudulently generated RINs under the federal RFS. EPA's one-page report summary is available online and its 23-page full report is available online. The EPA IG findings come at a vulnerable time for the RFS and...
September 13, 2013

OMB Reviewing Proposed 2014 RFS RVOs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reportedly has completed its proposed rule setting the 2014 renewable volume obligations (RVO) for obligated parties under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The proposal is now being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget before being published in the Federal Register, which will open the public comment period. By law, EPA is required to set the following year's RFS RVOs by November 30. The 2013 RVOs were...
September 5, 2013

Aemetis Announces RFS Pathway Approved By EPA

Renewable fuel and chemical company Aemetis, Inc. announced this week that EPA has approved its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) pathway to produce ethanol using grain sorghum and biogas with the Company's existing Combined Heat & Power system to generate D5 Advanced Biofuels Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN). This announcement means that additional fuel will qualify to fulfill the annual renewable volumetric targets under the federal RFS statute. It comes as EPA is preparing its...
September 5, 2013

Unilever And University Of Liverpool Partner On Renewable Chemicals

Unilever announced this week its new partnership with the University of Liverpool for a three-year research project designed to develop renewable chemicals "from the surplus sugars, fats, oils and carbohydrates produced via commodity by-products and forestry wastes, creating a cent[er] of excellence in the identification of sustainably sourced ingredients that it is hoped will end up in the production of some of the world's most familiar brands." The company's press release on...
September 5, 2013

USDA Sells Sugar To Renewable Fuel Producer

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it had purchased 7,118 short tons of refined beet sugar for $3.6 million and sold it to renewable fuel producer Front Range Energy for $900,000 (a loss of $2.7 million) under the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) Feedstock Flexibility Program (FFP). This was the first time USDA had utilized the FFP. The 2008 Farm Bill directs USDA to keep sugar prices...
September 5, 2013

Stakeholders Urge EPA To Act On Biogenic Carbon

On August 28, 2013, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) and the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) sent a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy urging EPA to (1) issue quickly a final rule clarifying how biogenic carbon emissions will be treated under Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V permitting requirements and (2) determine that biogenic carbon emissions from municipal solid waste (MSW) should...
August 30, 2013

Gevo Opens Demonstration Paraxylene Plant

On August 26, 2013, bio-isobutanol producer, Gevo, Inc., supported by Coca-Cola and Japanese chemical producer Toray Industries, Inc., held a ribbon cutting ceremony to open its new demonstration-scale paraxylene plant adjacent to Gevo's existing renewable jet fuel plant in Silsbee, Texas. Paraxylene is a key building block to renewable PET beverage bottles and packaging, among other things. Gevo's press release announcing this new facility is available online....
August 30, 2013

Moniz Announces Selection Of Outside Advisors

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz has announced the selection of 19 individuals to serve on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB). The press release on the announcement is available online. The SEAB will meet at least four times a year and will be broken into four subcommittees to focus on science, energy, nuclear security, and environmental stewardship. The group may also serve to provide advice to Secretary Moniz on an ad hoc basis to...
August 30, 2013

Work Continues On The Administration’s Climate Action Plan

EPA was scheduled to post a video on its YouTube channel providing an overview of the Agency's plans to regulate GHG emissions from existing power plants. Under President Obama's Climate Action Plan (CAP) announced on June 25, 2013, EPA is directed to propose emissions guidelines for existing power plants by June 1, 2014. EPA's YouTube page is available online. U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power Chair Ed Whitfield (R-KY) has announced...
August 30, 2013

Action On RFS Continues During August Recess

Despite the August Congressional Recess, much regulatory and legislative action continues in Washington, D.C. on the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Earlier this month, the leading trade groups representing the oil and gas industry, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), petitioned EPA to lower the 2014 RFS renewable volume obligations (RVO) to below 10 percent of total U.S. gasoline supply. Under the RFS, EPA is directed to set...
August 30, 2013

D.C. Circuit Extends Deadline To Appeal Biogenic Carbon Decision

On August 26, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a petition by several industry groups, including the American Forest & Paper Association and the National Alliance of Forest Owners, for an extension to file an appeal to the court's recent decision to vacate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rule temporarily exempting biogenic sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new GHG permitting requirements. For more information on...
August 26, 2013

KiOR Shareholders Sue Company

This week, it is reported that shareholders of leading U.S. cellulosic biofuels company, KiOR, sued the company, its Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Financial Officer, alleging that they reported misleading information on production projections, which artificially inflated the stock price paid. Last year, the company completed construction of its biorefinery in Columbus, Mississippi, which has the capacity to produce up to 13 million gallons per year of cellulosic biofuels made from woody...
August 26, 2013

USDA Announces Funding For Renewable Energy Projects

On August 15, 2013, USDA announced funding under its Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) for 631 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects throughout the country. About $400,000 will go to 13 projects designed to install blender pumps in gas stations, which will allow for the greater distribution of higher blends of ethanol, including E85 fuel. The ethanol industry has been calling for greater federal help on blender pumps to allow for greater distribution of...
August 26, 2013

USDA Sugar Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it will, for the first time, use its Feedstock Flexibility Program to help restore U.S. sugar prices at or above specific levels. Under the program, U.S. sugar producers may sell their sugar to USDA, which then plans to sell it to biofuels producers. Under the 2008 Farm Bill, USDA is required to keep U.S. sugar at prices at or above certain levels. This year's prices have...
August 26, 2013

Senators Seek FTC, Justice To Investigate Industry Efforts To Block Renewable Fuel

In a letter from Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to Attorney General Eric Holder and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Edith Ramirez, the Senators have requested that the U.S. Department of Justice and the FTC investigate the efforts of the oil companies to block market access of renewable fuels in violation of the Sherman Act and the Gasohol Competition Act of 1980, which prohibits discrimination or unreasonable limits against the sale of...
August 26, 2013

Purdue Recommends EPA Reduce RFS

Last week, a professor from Purdue University, Wallace Tyner, published an article concluding that EPA should reduce the overall and advanced RVOs under the RFS in years 2014-2016 to make the policy "workable." As we have reported, earlier this month, EPA released its final rule setting the 2013 RFS, in which the Agency included language indicating that it will likely reduce the overall and advanced RVOs for 2014 in that upcoming rulemaking. Tyner's article, which...
August 26, 2013

Final 2013 RFS Rule Officially Published In Federal Register

As we have reported, EPA has released its final rule setting the RVOs for the federal RFS (more information is available online). The final rule was officially published, and therefore became effective, on August 15, 2013. A copy of the final rule, as published in the Federal Register, is available online....
August 26, 2013

Secretary Moniz Addresses Biofuels

While in Brazil last week, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz stressed the importance of biofuels as part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, Secretary Moniz called for greater partnership between the U.S. and Brazil on biofuels. Significantly, it was reported that Secretary Moniz stated that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority and ability, and will continue to consider imports when EPA sets the...
August 26, 2013

The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group publishes article in the Journal of Industrial Bi

Renewable chemicals are emerging at a fast pace, paving the way for new, innovative, and sustainable biobased products. The renewable chemicals’ market is estimated to reach $83.4 billion by 2018 in applications ranging from transportation and agriculture to textiles and cosmetics. In addition to all the elements great companies need to succeed — a great product, a great brand, inspiring leadership, and vision — biobased product companies need to understand how the U.S....
August 15, 2013

Appeals Court Denies CARB Request On The LCFS

On August 8, 2013, the Fifth District Court of Appeals denied a petition from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for a rehearing of the case in which the court found on July 15, 2013, that CARB had improperly approved California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) in violation of administrative procedures (more information is available online). The July 15 decision stands and while CARB may continue to implement the LCFS, it must hold a new...
August 15, 2013

Beta Renewables Announces Commercial Cellulosic Production At Competitive Pric

Beta Renewables, a joint venture between chemical company Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi and investment company TPG, announced that it had begun commercial production at its cellulosic ethanol plant in Crescentino, Italy, at a price competitive with corn ethanol and gasoline. Novozymes, the leading producer of enzymes used for biofuels production, has invested in Beta Renewables. Beta Renewables expects to export the technology to develop about 20 new plants by 2017. ...
August 15, 2013

GranBio And Rhodia To Partner On Renewable Chemicals

This week, Brazilian biotechnology company GranBio and Solvay Group company Rhodia announced they have signed an agreement to partner to produce bio n-butanol, used to manufacture renewable chemicals and biobased products, including paint. Under the agreement, the companies intend to build the first biomass-based n-butanol plant in Brazil, with operations planned to come online in 2015. The press release is available online....
August 15, 2013

Oil Industry Continues Campaign Against The RFS

The American Petroleum Institute (API) this week launched its second ad in selected markets against the federal RFS. The ad is being aired in California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. It comes just after EPA issued its final 2013 RFS rule (more information is available online), and as the House Energy & Commerce Committee leadership is working on potential modifications to the RFS (more information is available online). The ad continues the...
August 15, 2013

EPA Continues Work On The President’s Climate Action Plan

New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy is working hard this month to carry out the President's Climate Action Plan, which is available online. The plan is designed to "cut the carbon pollution that causes climate change and affects public health." This week, Administrator McCarthy participated in a town hall event at the University of Colorado at Boulder to discuss the plan and EPA's work on new emissions rules for new and existing...
August 15, 2013

Biofuels Industry Bolstered By Latest USDA Corn Report

On August 12, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its "World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates" report in which it projects the U.S. will produce a record 13.76 billion bushels of corn in 2013. The report is available online. Representatives from ethanol trade groups Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) praised the news and argued that it showed the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was not contributing to higher food prices...
August 8, 2013

Upcoming Trade Mission To Brazil To Foster Opportunities For U.S. Biofuels

Biofuels trade associations, including the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), and Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) announced last week that they will be leading a trip with 15 companies to Brazil September 30-October 2, 2013, to help foster opportunities for U.S. biofuels. The trip is part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Export Green Initiative. Companies that wish to participate may apply by August 30, 2013. Up to two representatives...
August 3, 2013

Department of Energy Holds Sixth Annual Biomass 2013 Conference in Washington, D.C

On July 31 and August 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) held its sixth annual "Biomass 2013: How the Advanced Bioindustry is Reshaping American Energy." Over two days, attendees heard from Senators, Representatives, Obama Administration officials, and representatives of industry on the current and future progress of the biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products industries. The Biomass 2013 website, including detailed information on the conference and its program...
August 3, 2013

Senate EPW Committee Holds Hearing on TSCA Reform

On July 31, 2013, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) held a hearing on "Strengthening Public Health Protections by Addressing Toxic Chemical Threats." The exceptionally long hearing included three panels of 19 witnesses and focused on potential reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). The detailed report of the hearing issued by Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. is available online. The hearing largely focused...
July 26, 2013

House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee Two-Day Hearing On The RFS

The House Energy & Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Power held its much anticipated two-day hearing on the RFS, with 16 witnesses from both sides testifying. The following is the full list of witnesses: Panel I • Mr. Jack N. Gerard, President and CEO, American Petroleum Institute • Mr. Charles T. Drevna, President, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers • Mr. Bob Dinneen, President and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association • Mr. Michael McAdams,...
July 26, 2013

DOE Announces Meeting Of The Biomass Research And Development Technical Advisory Committee

On July 23, 2013, DOE published a notice announcing an open meeting of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee, which is available online. The meeting will take place August 14, 2013, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and August 15, 2013, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It will be held at the American Geophysical Union, 2000 Florida Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20009. For more information, contact Elliott Levine, Designated Federal Officer, Office of Energy...
July 22, 2013

Gina McCarthy Is Sworn In As New EPA Administrator

On July 18, 2013, the Senate voted 59-40 to approve the nomination of Gina McCarthy to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Six Republicans voted for the nomination, including Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN); Kelly Ayotte (R-NH); Susan Collins (R-ME); Bob Corker (R-TN); and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). McCarthy was sworn in to her new position as EPA Administrator on July 19, 2013. McCarthy's confirmation came after four months of debate, with several Republicans, including members...
July 19, 2013

Latest Action On RFS

Activity on the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is in full swing on Capitol Hill. Last week, the House Energy & Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Power issued its fifth and final white paper on the RFS seeking input from stakeholders on "implementation issues" with the policy. The white paper is available online. The white paper follows the Subcommittee's hearing last month at which government witnesses testified on the effectiveness and implementation...
July 18, 2013

Federal Appeals Court Throws Out EPA Rule Temporarily Exempting Biogenic Carbon Emissions From New

On July 12, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued its decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA. In a 2-1 decision, the court vacated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rule (the Deferral Rule) exempting bioenergy and other biogenic sources of greenhouse gas emissions from new greenhouse gas permitting requirements under EPA's Tailoring Rule for a period of three years. This deferral was meant to allow EPA time...