Biobased and Renewable Products News: Capitol Hill

July 6, 2018
Senate Passes Farm Bill With Mandatory Energy Title Program Funding
On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed S.3042 -- Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) with a vote of 86-11. This bill includes mandatory funding for Energy Title programs, including the Biomass Research and Development Initiative; the Biobased Markets Program; the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Product Manufacturing Assistance Program; the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels; the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP); and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). In addition to securing funding for a range of bioenergy programs, the legislation also expands the types ... read more >
June 15, 2018
BRAG Engages With EPA On Critical Nomenclature Issues
On June 13, 2018, representatives of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) and representatives of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff to discuss the two groups’ white paper, “Proposal for a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory Representation and Equivalency Determinations for Renewable and Sustainable Bio-based Chemicals.”  BRAG and BIO members provided a presentation for EPA staff that outlined the regulatory challenges and market impendence facing the biobased ... read more >
June 1, 2018
Bipartisan Support Keeps Energy Title Programs In Farm Bill
On May 17, 2018, a proposed amendment to repeal the Farm Bill’s energy title programs was defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 75-340. These title programs provide grants and loan guarantees to rural lenders and businesses, as well as research and development support for renewable energy products. While these programs account for less than one percent of the total amount that the federal government spends on agriculture and nutrition programs, they provide a strong return on investment and provide vital access to capital for rural businesses. Lloyd Ritter, Director ... read more >
May 4, 2018
18 Senators Request EPA To Provide Timeline On RVP/E15 Rulemaking
On April 30, 2018, 18 pro-ethanol Senators sent a bi-partisan letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting a “transparent timeline … on the regulatory pathway forward to address the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) issue,” “an expected timeline of the rulemaking process to clarify how the agency will make this change to allow higher ethanol blends access to the marketplace” and “immediate clarity to allow higher ethanol blends to be sold in the interim while the outdated regulation is being changed” as related ... read more >
April 27, 2018
House Agriculture Committee Unveils Its Draft Farm Bill 2018
On April 12, 2018, House Agriculture Committee Chair Michael Conaway (R-TX) released the Committee’s draft Farm Bill reauthorization, the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018” (H.R. 2).  The 600-plus page draft legislation includes a number of provisions that will be of interest to Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) members and the biofuel industry, including the following sections: Sec. 6402. Biobased markets program.  Section 6402 amends section 9002(i) of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 by authorizing ... read more >
April 13, 2018
Algae Agriculture Act Of 2018 Introduced To The House Of Representatives
Representative Scott Peters (D-CA) recently introduced the Algae Agriculture Act of 2018 (H.R. 5373) to the House of Representatives. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), and Darin LaHood (R-IL), would provide similar advantages to algae cultivators and harvesters as those that exist for traditional crop farmers under U.S. agricultural policy. These advantages include: updating the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture to include algae, which will provide funding for additional research into ways to ... read more >
March 16, 2018
RFS Reform Bills Introduced In Congress
On March 8, 2018, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced companion legislation (S. 2519, H.R. 5212) in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, respectively, to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  The Growing Renewable Energy through Existing and New Environmentally Responsible (GREENER) Fuels Act aims to: Phase out the corn ethanol mandate and immediately reduce the amount of ethanol in fuel by as much as one billion gallons by capping the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 9.7 percent; Help farmers ... read more >
March 16, 2018
Industry Coalition Sends Letter On Farm Bill To Congressional Agricultural Committee
On March 6, 2018, a coalition of over 200 companies and trade associations sent a letter to the Agricultural Committee leaders in the House and Senate urging the reauthorization of and stable mandatory funding for the energy title programs in the next Farm Bill reauthorization.  The letter states that the Farm Bill energy title programs have greatly assisted rural America in developing clean, renewable energy, biobased products, and making energy efficiency investments for more than 15 years with an incredibly modest, cost-effective investment.  The less than one tenth of one ... read more >
February 16, 2018
Congress Approves U.S. Blender’s Credit For 2017
As explained in the notice issued by Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), with President Trump’s signing of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892), the blenders tax credit was extended retroactively for 2017.  Qualified biofuel blenders are eligible for a tax credit of $1.00 per gallon of biodiesel or renewable diesel used in the blending process in 2017.  The blenders tax credit was one of several biofuel-related tax incentives that were extended retroactively.  The incentives, which also include tax credits for ... read more >
February 2, 2018
ITA Announces Open REEEAC Meeting
On January 26, 2018, the International Trade Administration (ITA) published in the Federal Register a notice of an open meeting of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (REEEAC).  The meeting will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on May 10, 2018, in Washington, D.C and will be the seventh and final in-person meeting of the current charter.  The meeting will include REEEAC subcommittee working sessions, a discussion on next steps for each subcommittee, consideration of recommendations for approval, and an update from the Department of Commerce ... read more >
January 19, 2018
Rural Prosperity Task Force Presents Findings To President Trump
On January 8, 2018, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue presented to President Donald Trump the findings of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.  The Task Force was established in 2017 following an Executive Order by President Trump to ensure the informed exercise of regulatory authority that impacts agriculture and rural communities.  According to the report, over 100 actions organized around five key topic areas, specifically e-connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, innovation and technology, and economic development, were ... read more >
January 12, 2018
ITA Issues CVD Orders On Biodiesel From Argentina And Indonesia
On January 4, 2018, the International Trade Administration (ITA) issued in the Federal Register a notice of the countervailing duty (CVD) orders on biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia based on the affirmative final determinations by the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the International Trade Commission (ITC).  As reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post ITC Issues Final Determinations On Biodiesel From Argentina And Indonesia, after DOC issued its final affirmative determination on November 16, 2017, ITC filed its final determination on ... read more >
January 5, 2018
ITC Issues Final Determinations On Biodiesel From Argentina And Indonesia
On December 28, 2017, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) issued in the Federal Register a notice regarding its final determination on the antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations of biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia.  Pursuant to the Tariff Act of 1930, ITC determined that an industry in the United States is materially injured by reason of imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, which have been found by the Department of Commerce (DOC) to be subsidized by the governments of Argentina and Indonesia.  ITC completed and filed its ... read more >
December 15, 2017
Agencies Seek Public Comment On Extension Of ICR On Biobased Procurements Data
On December 4, 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued in the Federal Register a notice of request for public comment regarding an extension of a previously approved ICR regarding biobased procurements.  Pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause 52.223-2, prime contractors are required to report annually the product types and dollar values of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-designated biobased products purchased to the System for Award Management (SAM) ... read more >
November 17, 2017
Weekly Roundup of Other Biobased News
The Hill, “Senate Moves Toward Confirming Trump EPA Air Nominee” Bloomberg Politics, “U.S. Subpoenas Icahn Over Biofuel Action While Trump Adviser” Newsweek, “Scientists Work To Make Better Plastics From Sunlight” University of Delaware, “Research Aims To Help Renewable Jet Fuel Take ... read more >
November 10, 2017
Senators Re-Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Extend MLP Benefits To Renewables
On October 25, 2017, bipartisan legislation aimed at leveling the playing field between renewable and fossil fuels was re-introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives.  Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), along with eight bipartisan co-sponsors, introduced the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act (S. 2005) in the Senate.  Representative Ted Poe (R-TX), along with six co-sponsors, introduced similar legislation (H.R. 4118) in the House.  The legislation would allow investors in a range of clean energy projects, including renewable fuels, access to a corporate structure whose ... read more >
November 3, 2017
Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Establish Renewable Chemicals Tax Credit
On October 18, 2017, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced to the Senate the Renewable Chemicals Act of 2017 (S. 1980), which aims to establish a short-term tax credit for the production of renewable chemicals and for investment in renewable chemical production facilities.  If enacted, the legislation would allow taxpayers to claim a production credit equal to $0.15 per pound of biobased content of each renewable chemical produced.  In lieu of the production credit, taxpayers would be able to claim an investment credit equal to 30 percent of the basis of any eligible property ... read more >
November 3, 2017
EPA Sends Letter To Senators Addressing RFS Issues
On October 19, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt sent a letter to Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Thune (R-SD), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) to confirm his commitment to support the spirit and the letter of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  In the letter, Pruitt stated that, following a detailed analysis, numerous stakeholder meetings, and review of public comments, it was determined that EPA would not grant the petition to move the point of obligation to ... read more >
October 27, 2017
Congressmen Send Bipartisan Letter On Regulating Agricultural Biotechnology To USDA, FDA, EPA
On October 17, 2017, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Congressman Neal Dunn, M.D. (R-FL), and 77 additional House members sent a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to urge the agencies to work together to promote innovative new technologies aimed at increasing crop yields and reducing the cost of production.  According to Congressman Panetta, the letter was prepared in response to duplicative or inconsistent regulatory proposals regarding biotechnology.  In the ... read more >
October 27, 2017
BIO Requests Reauthorization Of Biobased Assistance Program
On October 19, 2017, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), an Associate member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that it and its member companies sent a letter to the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture requesting the reauthorization of the Farm Bill’s Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Manufacturing Assistance Program (Section 9003).  According to the letter, “[s]everal renewable chemical startups and mature chemical companies are waiting to build their first-of-a-kind manufacturing facilities in the ... read more >
October 27, 2017
Weekly Roundup of Other Biobased News
Bloomberg Politics, “Trump Tells EPA to Boost Biofuels after Iowa Uproar” International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), “ICAO Conference on Sustainable Alternative Fuels Agrees on New 2050 Vision to Guide Future Development and Deployment” Portland Press Herald, “LePage Invites Bio-Based Businesses to Call Maine Home” Digital Journal, “Florida Aims to Become Regional Alternative Jet Fuels Hub” Triple Pundit, “Over Half a Trillion Soybeans Later, Ford Marks 10-Year Anniversary of Bio-based Foam” Middletown Transcript, ... read more >
October 6, 2017
Senate Committee Holds Hearing On 2018 Farm Bill
On September 28, 2017, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing titled “Rural Development and Energy Programs: Perspectives for the 2018 Farm Bill” to gather stakeholder input regarding the programs under the Farm Bill that are working or need improvement.  In his opening statement, Committee Chair Pat Roberts (R-KS) stated that it is critical for the next Farm Bill to support renewable energy and biobased product manufacturers, as well as rural businesses, cooperatives, health clinics, schools, and other essential service ... read more >
October 6, 2017
Iowa Senators Respond To EPA NODA Regarding RFS Program
Last week, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) responded to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Notice of Data Availability (NODA) regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume requirements (see EPA Issues NODA Regarding RFS Program).  On September 27, 2017, Ernst sent a letter to President Trump expressing concern over the proposed reduction in the volume requirements for 2018 and 2019.  In the letter, Ernst highlights the importance of renewable fuel with regard to jobs in rural America, and energy security for the U.S. Additionally, the ... read more >
September 22, 2017
Pruitt Responds To Senators’ Request For Details On Icahn’s Advisory Role
On September 11, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt sent a letter to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in response to the request by Senator Whitehouse and four other Democratic Senators to explain Carl Icahn’s role in shaping the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  According to Pruitt, Icahn did not exercise excessive influence on the U.S. biofuels policy while acting as an advisor of President Trump.  The letter states that Icahn was one of many advisors that Trump met with during his confirmation and no assurances were made ... read more >
September 15, 2017
NAS Publishes Interim Report On Synthetic Biology
On August 21, 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) released their interim report titled A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology.  The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) asked NAS to develop the framework to: Guide an assessment of the security concerns related to advances in synthetic biology; Assess the level of concern warranted for various advances and identify areas of vulnerability; and Prioritize options to address these vulnerabilities. The report provides an overview of the ... read more >
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