Regulatory Developments

DOE Announces RFI On Improving Battery Critical Materials Supply Chains and Other Biobased Developments

July 2, 2020 PRINT

Federal

DOE Announces RFI On Improving Battery Critical Materials Supply Chains

On June 29, 2020, the United States (U.S.) Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) published a request for information (RFI) on challenges and opportunities in the up- and mid-stream critical materials battery supply chains. As demand for critical materials such as lithium and cobalt for the manufacturing of batteries continues to grow, DOE is seeking ways to reduce U.S. dependence on critical materials. According to DOE’s EERE, it will achieve this goal by reducing the amount of critical materials needed for battery production and recycling materials that are already in use. Consequently, the RFI is seeking input on the current state of the battery cathode materials supply chains, as well as opportunities for near-term and long-term research and development (R&D). Responses to the RFI must be submitted by July 31, 2020, and will be considered in the development of the R&D federal strategy.

DOE’s Assistant Secretary for EERE, Daniel R. Simmons, stated that “Innovation in our domestic industries and continued investment by DOE programs will help strengthen our country’s ability to manufacture and recycle these materials, and work toward more robust domestic supply chains.” His statement and the RFI itself are in response to President Donald J. Trumps’ Executive Order 13817, titled “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.”

House Select Committee On Climate Crisis Publishes Report On Action Plan For A Clean Energy Economy

This June, the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis released a report titled “Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America.” Providing a road map for Congress to follow, the action plan has three main goals:

  • Reaching 100 percent clean, net zero emissions economy-wide in the U.S. by 2050;
     
  • Establishing ambitious interim targets to assess progress and reduce pollution in environmental justice communities; and
     
  • Achieving net-negative emissions during the second half of the century.

The action plan consists of a comprehensive set of policy recommendations for Congressional action aggressively to reduce carbon pollution as quickly as possible while making communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change and building a clean energy economy. Successfully implemented, the Select Committee’s action plan would at minimum:

  • Reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions before 2050;
  • Reduce net U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 37 percent below 2010 levels in 2030 and 88 percent below 2010 levels in 2050;
  • Avoid 62,000 premature deaths annually by 2050; and
  • Provide almost $8 trillion in cumulative climate and health benefits through 2050.

The Climate Crisis Action Plan calls on Congress not only to grow the U.S. economy and put Americans to work in clean energy jobs, but also to protect family health, protect U.S. land and waters for the next generation, and ensure that communities and farmers can withstand climate change impacts. The full report is available here.

DOE Announces RFP For R&D Projects Supporting H2@Scale

On July 1, 2020, DOE’s EERE announced a request for proposals (RFP) for R&D projects that support DOE’s H2@Scale vision for large-scale, affordable hydrogen production, storage, distribution, and utilization across various sectors. H2@Scale is an initiative focused on exploring the potential for wide-scale hydrogen production and utilization in the United States to enable resilience and sustainability of the power generation and transmission sectors. The initiative’s goal is to align diverse multibillion-dollar domestic industries with domestic competitiveness and job creation. The RFP comes from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO). Two areas of R&D are of particular interest to NREL and HFTO:

  • Advancing hydrogen fuel technologies for medium- and heavy-duty fuel cell vehicles; and
  • Addressing technical barriers to hydrogen blending in natural gas.

HFTO will fund NREL services, staff time, and facilities necessary to support each selected project. Selected projects must include one or more National Laboratories and must include partners from one or more of the following: universities, industries, non-profits, associations, institutes, codes and standards organizations, or other relevant stakeholders. Proposals must be submitted on or prior to July 31, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. (EDT).

ORNL Issues NOO For Small Businesses

On July 1, 2020, DOE’s EERE announced that the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) issued a Notice of Opportunity (NOO) providing small businesses and other industry partners with more affordable access to ORNL’s Building Technologies Research and Integration Center (BTRIC). The NOO allows small businesses to undertake collaborative, short-term R&D projects that accelerate the development of new energy-efficient building technologies. Funded by DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO), selected participants will have access to ORNL’s experienced staff, equipment, and research capabilities. This NOO is particularly designed to significantly reduce the time, cost, and risk of bringing a novel product to market and to accelerate and streamline partnering processes. Each project cost share will be reduced from 50 percent to 20 percent to encourage innovation despite economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

ORNL is requesting proposals from industry to assess whether their technological approaches could contribute to BTO’s goal of 30 percent reduction in building energy usage by 2030 relative to the 2010 baseline. Technology areas of interest include:

  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), water heating, and appliances;
  • Windows and building envelope;
  • Solid-state lighting;
  • Building energy modeling;
  • Sensors and controls;
  • Grid-interactive efficient buildings; and
  • Residential and commercial building integration.

DOE Selects Projects For R&D In Performance-Advantaged Biofuel Blendstocks

On July 2, 2020, DOE announced that it has selected seven projects to conduct R&D to accelerate the adoption of performance-advantaged biofuel blendstocks. A total of $1.94 million in funding is available for the projects, which will leverage National Laboratory capabilities as part of the Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines (Co-Optima) initiative. The Co-Optima initiative focuses on simultaneous innovations in fuels and engines that can boost fuel economy and vehicle performance while reducing emissions.

Each of the Co-Optima initiative awardees will receive up to $300,000 in National Laboratory assistance for experimental or computational projects that leverage:

  • Capabilities in areas of bioblendstock fuel property and production research;
  • Combustion performance modeling;
  • Bioblendstock fuel property and production research;
  • Bioblendstock target identification; and/or
  • Impacts analysis.

Each awardee has committed to a 20 percent cost share contribution.

Assistant Secretary for DOE’s EERE, Daniel R. Simmons, stated that “[t]hese projects are designed to help improve energy efficiency for passenger vehicles through the use of biofuels, translating into savings at the pump.”

Industry

BIO Announces Start-Up Competition Prize Winners

On June 26, 2020, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, announced the winners of its 2020 Start-Up Stadium competition. The competition had 30 finalists that were evaluated during BIO Digital in June, by expert judges with backgrounds in investment, entrepreneurship, start-ups, economic development, capital formation, and academia. Five winners were chosen based on their commercially viable cutting-edge technologies and therapeutic solutions. Competition winners will receive:

  • A one-year membership in BIO;
  • Four hours of complimentary legal services;
  • One-hour advisory discussion with two venture capital firms; and
  • A “fast-track” accelerator application and nomination into the final selection phase for up to a $10,000 sequencing grant.

B&C

TSCA At Four – A Conversation With Alexandra Dunn, OCSPP AA

Last week’s Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) All Things ChemicalTM podcast will be of interest to readers of the Biobased Products Blog. A brief description of the episode written by Lynn L. Bergeson, B&C Managing Partner, is below.

Last week I sat down with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator (AA) Alexandra Dunn. As many of our listeners know, Alex Dunn heads the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) and is responsible for implementing the nation’s industrial and agricultural chemical laws, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), respectively.

Alex has an extensive background in the environmental field and is a leading voice on TSCA and FIFRA. Prior to Alex’s current role, she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and before Region 1, Alex served as the executive director and general counsel for the Environmental Council of States. She has published extensively in the areas of the ethics of community advocacy, environmental justice, urban sustainability, water quality, cooperative federalism, the Clean Water Act, and more.

Given Alex’s high profile role at EPA, we focused our discussion on implementation of the amendments to TSCA, which Congress enacted in 2016. As we record this session, we are at the four-year anniversary of the new law, and we celebrate EPA’s many accomplishments in implementing the Congressionally mandated changes to the law. As pollution prevention is an integral part of EPA’s mission, we also focus on initiatives under way to introduce safer and greener chemicals. Finally, our discussion includes a look ahead to what is on EPA’s agenda for the remainder of the year, which promises to be extraordinarily busy.

ALL MATERIALS IN THIS PODCAST ARE PROVIDED SOLELY FOR INFORMATIONAL AND ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES. THE MATERIALS ARE NOT INTENDED TO CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR THE PROVISION OF LEGAL SERVICES. ALL LEGAL QUESTIONS SHOULD BE ANSWERED DIRECTLY BY A LICENSED ATTORNEY PRACTICING IN THE APPLICABLE AREA OF LAW.

TSCA At Four – A Conversation With Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.

In mid-June 2020, Lynn L. Bergeson, B&C Managing Partner, sat with Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., B&C Director of Chemistry, for an All Things ChemicalTM podcast on “new TSCA” after four years of implementation. A brief description of the episode written by Lynn L. Bergeson is below.

As we are now into July, TSCA aficionados will be quick to note that “new TSCA” is now almost four years old. Passage in June 2016 of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act occasioned EPA’s implementation of a law that has transformed industrial chemical regulation in the United States. This week, to mark Lautenberg’s fourth birthday, I sat down with Dr. Richard E. Engler, B&C’s Director of Chemistry and all-around expert on all things TSCA, to look back on what EPA stakeholders have achieved over the past four years, and to look forward to what to expect the remainder of this year and beyond. We address the progress EPA has made in reviewing new chemical innovations, regulating existing industrial chemicals, what early challenges have been resolved, and a few of the frustrations that linger.

As a 17-year veteran of EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics and now an extremely busy and tops in his field private consultant, Rich knows TSCA from both sides, and his insights are always spot on.

Rich is a Ph.D. chemist who focuses here at B&C and our consulting affiliate, The Acta Group (Acta®), on all aspects of TSCA regulation and science policy. In addition to his duties as a top chemist at EPA, Rich also headed EPA’s Green Chemistry Program. Rich has reviewed more than 10,000 chemical notifications under TSCA and now is an indispensable part of our deep TSCA bench here at B&C and Acta.

ALL MATERIALS IN THIS PODCAST ARE PROVIDED SOLELY FOR INFORMATIONAL AND ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES. THE MATERIALS ARE NOT INTENDED TO CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR THE PROVISION OF LEGAL SERVICES. ALL LEGAL QUESTIONS SHOULD BE ANSWERED DIRECTLY BY A LICENSED ATTORNEY PRACTICING IN THE APPLICABLE AREA OF LAW.

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