Biobased and Renewable Products News: EPA

May 2, 2014
OMB Reviewing RFS Pathways Rule As Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Activity Remains High
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reportedly received the final rule on "RFS Pathways II and Technical Amendments to the RFS2 Standards" (RFS Pathways II rule) from EPA. This is the last step in the process before EPA publishes the final rule. EPA's summary of its proposed RFS Pathways II rule is available online. A copy of the 38-page proposed rule, which was published in the Federal Register on June 14, 2013, is also available online. The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG™) reported on and summarized the proposed RFS ... read more >
May 2, 2014
Supreme Court Reinstates EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule
On April 29, 2014, in a 6-2 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld EPA's view in EPA v. EME Homer City Generation L.P., U.S. Nos. 12-1182 and 12-1183. The opinion is available online. The decision reverses a 2012 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, holding that EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) exceeded EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The CSAPR -- issued under the Obama Administration and which strengthened a similar rule issued in 2005 by the Bush Administration -- requires ... read more >
April 25, 2014
EPA Issues Direct Final Rule Reducing 2013 Cellulosic Fuel Blending Requirement
On April 22, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed off on a Direct Final Rule requiring petroleum refiners and importers to blend 810,185 gallons of cellulosic fuels into the fuel supply in 2013 in response to petitions for reconsideration of the Final Rule from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). The pre-publication version of the Direct Final Rule is available online. Petitioners successfully argued that cellulosic fuel production was well below EPA's projections. Previously, EPA had mandated that ... read more >
April 25, 2014
Renewable Fuel Producers Oppose EPA Motion In 2013 RFS Case
Oral argument was heard on April 7, 2014, on a joint motion filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by EPA, API, and AFPM to sever certain issues and hold them in abeyance pending administrative reconsideration. Monroe Energy LLC et al. v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 13-1265. According to the Respondent-Intervenors Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Growth Energy, and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) in their April 16, 2014, response opposing EPA's motion, severing the case serves no purpose. EPA requested that the API and AFPM petitions be pulled out of the case and ... read more >
April 25, 2014
Not Too Soon To Be Thinking Of 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Submissions
EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards promote the environmental and economic benefits of developing and using novel green chemistry. These prestigious annual awards recognize chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use. Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG™) member Elevance Renewable Sciences was a Presidential Green Chemistry Award Winner in 2012. While applications for 2014 are due on April 30, 2014, it is not too soon to begin thinking and preparing for a 2015 submission. EPA's ... read more >
April 25, 2014
EPA Questions Results Of DOE-Funded Study Finding GHG Emissions From Cellulosic Fuels
EPA is vigorously questioning results of a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-funded study that concludes ethanol produced from crop residues such as corn stover can have higher lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than conventional gasoline, arguing that the findings are based on an "extremely unlikely scenario" of unsubstantiated agricultural practices. RFA is also highly critical of the new study, claiming its "methodology is fundamentally flawed and its conclusions are highly suspect." RFA made available a useful fact sheet that is available online. The ... read more >
April 18, 2014
EPA Releases 2014-2018 Strategic Plan
On April 10, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its strategic plan through 2018. A copy of the plan is available online. It includes statements by EPA reinforcing its commitment to enhancing implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) and the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the next four years. In the 99-page document, EPA reiterates its position supporting enhancing TSCA. To that end, EPA stresses that "[p]otential legislative action to reauthorize TSCA is both a key external factor and a key emerging issue. Consistent ... read more >
April 11, 2014
Senate Agriculture Committee Holds Hearing On Advanced Biofuels
On April 8, 2014, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a hearing on "Advanced Biofuels: Creating Jobs and Lower Prices at the Pump." The following witnesses testified at the hearing: Mr. Richard Childress, CEO, Richard Childress Racing, LLC; Mr. Jan Koninckx, Global Business Director for Biorefineries, DuPont Industrial Biosciences; Mr. Brooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Ethanol Council; Dr. Sumesh Arora, Vice President, Innovate Mississippi, Director of Strategic Biomass Solutions; and, Ms. Nancy Young, Vice President, Environmental Affairs, ... read more >
April 11, 2014
Court Hears Challenges To EPA’s 2013 RFS Rule
On April 7, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments in Monroe Energy, LLC v. EPA (No. 13-1265). In the case, Monroe Energy, a subsidiary of Delta Airlines, the American Petroleum Institute (API), and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) are challenging EPA's final 2013 RFS rule. The plaintiffs' arguments include that the rule should be overturned because EPA improperly considered the availability of carryover Renewable Identification Numbers and illegally issued the rule in final nine months after the statutory ... read more >
April 11, 2014
Senate EPW Committee Holds Hearing On Nominations
On April 8, 2014, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) held a hearing to consider the following three nominees for EPA posts: Janet McCabe, nominated for EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR); Ann Dunkin, nominated for EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Environmental Information; and Manny Ehrlich, nominated to be a member of the Chemical Safety Board. Consideration of the nomination of McCabe to become Assistant Administrator for OAR appeared to be the most contentious. Several Republican Members of the EPW Committee ... read more >
April 4, 2014
Members Of Congress Send Letter To EPA On Implementation Of The RFS
On March 28, 2014, Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Steve Womack (R-AR), and Peter Welch (D-VT) sent a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy with targeted questions related to the implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The four Members of Congress all believe the RFS is not working in its current form. Last fall, they introduced H.R. 1462, the "RFS Reform Act," which eliminates corn-based ethanol requirements, limits the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at ten percent, ... read more >
March 28, 2014
EPA To Review And Improve RFS Fuel Pathways Process
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it will take approximately the next six months to evaluate and improve the petition process for new fuel pathways under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Every producer that wants their renewable fuel to qualify under the RFS must have its fuel pathway, including feedstock and technology process, approved by EPA. EPA intends to make the process more efficient and transparent, and thereby reduce the amount of time it takes to make determinations on new fuel pathway petitions. The Agency also intends to develop and ... read more >
March 28, 2014
EPA, Green Chemistry Challenge Awards, And Stepan Company Join BRAG Panel At BIO World Congress
We are very pleased to announce some of the speakers who are scheduled to participate in the session the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG™) is hosting May 13, 2014, at BIO World Congress, titled "Commercializing Renewable Chemicals and Biobased Products: The Importance of Successfully and Efficiently Navigating the Regulatory Process": * Tracy Williamson, Ph.D., Chief, Industrial Chemistry Branch, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, EPA; * David Widawsky, Ph.D., Director -- Economics, Exposure, and Technology Division of EPA and Manager of ... read more >
March 21, 2014
EPA Moves Forward On TSCA Rulemaking Related To Fracking Chemicals
On March 13, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a pre-rule notice to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on "Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Mixtures." This action shows that EPA is moving forward on a rulemaking under TSCA Sections 8(a) and 8(d) to obtain data on chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is a process used in oil and gas production. EPA explained in the Fall 2013 Unified Agenda that although the Agency "has granted the petitioners' request to initiate a rulemaking ... read more >
March 21, 2014
OCSPP Develops A Vision Plan
On March 12, 2014, Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), shared with his colleagues a vision plan that was developed to guide OCSPP's work over the next several years. The document, entitled Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Envisioning Accomplishments in 2017, outlines several actions that will be taken by OCSPP regarding pesticide registration, existing chemicals, the EDSP, creating a whole new Design for the Environment (DfE), and employing green solutions. Actions that will be taken in implementing ... read more >
March 21, 2014
EPA Calls For 2014 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award Nominations
On March 18, 2014, EPA issued a press release seeking nominations for EPA's Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. Biobased chemical producers and stakeholders are urged to consider submitting a nomination, or at the least preparing to submit one for next year. The award is prestigious and well worth the time and effort it takes to submit a compelling nomination application. Nominations are due to the Agency by April 30, 2014. EPA's press release about the awards and entry process is available ... read more >
March 7, 2014
President Obama Releases FY 2015 Budget Proposal
On March 4, 2014, President Obama released his fiscal year (FY) 2015 Budget request, which includes aggressive proposed funding to carry out the Administration's Climate Action Plan designed to reduce harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the impacts of climate change. The President's FY 2015 Budget includes funding for several programs and initiatives to help facilitate the continued development and production of biofuels and biobased products. Consistent with the newly enacted Farm Bill, the Budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) includes increased funding for ... read more >
March 7, 2014
EPA Issues Final Rule On Tier 3 Regulations
On March 3, 2014, EPA released its final rule on "Control of Air Pollution from Motor Vehicles: Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards" (the "Tier 3 rule"). A copy of the 1069-page Tier 3 rule is available online. A copy of EPA's five-page fact sheet on "EPA Sets Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards" is available online. The Tier 3 rule is designed to reduce air pollution from passenger cars and trucks. Beginning in 2017, the Tier 3 rule will set new vehicle emissions standards and reduce the sulfur content of gasoline. It will ... read more >
February 21, 2014
EPA Announces Funding For Chemical Impact Research
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has awarded more than $3 million in funding to four research institutions to study how chemicals behave when they come into contact with biological systems. The projects will focus on developing better models that predict the connection between exposures to chemicals and the chain of events that lead to an unwanted health effect. The results are expected to assist EPA in its mission to protect human health and the environment, to inform and impact EPA's chemical safety research, and to develop solutions for more ... read more >
January 31, 2014
EPA Updates Safer Chemicals Ingredient List
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken two actions this month to update Design for the Environment's (DfE) Safer Chemical Ingredients List. On January 23, 2014, EPA announced that it is adding 50 chemicals to the list, "bringing the number of safer fragrance chemicals to 150 and the total number of safer chemicals to nearly 650." The list is available online. On January 29, 2014, EPA announced that it has issued final DfE alternatives assessments for Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) and Bisphenol A (BPA). The 901 page report on alternatives for the flame ... read more >
January 10, 2014
EPA Nominations
On December 19, 2013, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Janet McCabe to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Air and Radiation. She has been serving as Acting Assistant Administrator of the Air and Radiation Office since July when Gina McCarthy left to become EPA Administrator. McCabe is generally well-liked and respected, and she is expected to be confirmed without much opposition. McCabe is expected to face tough questions during her nomination hearing on several policies, including EPA efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. President ... read more >
January 10, 2014
Continuing Efforts On The RFS
There have been several efforts in the last few weeks to convince the Obama Administration to reconsider its proposal to reduce the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) statutory renewable volume obligations (RVO) for advanced and total renewable (corn ethanol) biofuels, and to maintain in 2014 and 2015 the status quo for biodiesel. Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) are expected to introduce a bill in the coming weeks, which would amend the RFS and reduce its corn ethanol targets. On December 18, a group of 16 Senators met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to urge ... read more >
December 13, 2013
Senators Introduce Bill Potentially Impacting Chemical Plant Regulation
This week, three Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), Senators David Vitter (R-LA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and James Inhofe (R-OK), introduced the General Duty Clarification Act of 2013. The bill would direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clarify standards for the Clean Air Act's General Duty Clause. EPA has used the ambiguity contained in the clause to regulate chemical plants. A copy of the bill is available ... read more >
December 13, 2013
EPW Committee Holds Hearing On The Renewable Fuel Standard
All sides of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) debate had another chance to air their views on Wednesday at the Senate EPW Committee "Oversight Hearing on Domestic Renewable Fuels." Hearing details are available online. Witnesses included representatives from EPA, DOE, industry, and major trade associations representing the oil and gas and biofuels industries. Their testimony was consistent with their previous actions and statements. For instance, EPA testified in support of its 2014 proposed RFS rule, which for the first time would reduce volumetric targets for all ... read more >
December 6, 2013
EPA Issues Notice On Green Product Purchasing Guidelines
On November 27, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a notice on "Draft Guidelines; Product Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels for Voluntary Use in Federal Procurement; Notice of Availability and Request for Comments." A copy of the notice is available online. Comments are due by February 25, 2014. According to EPA, the Agency intends for the guidelines to "provide a transparent, fair, and consistent approach to using non-governmental product environmental performance standards and ecolabels in Federal ... read more >
December 6, 2013
EPA Issues Final Rule On Electronic Reporting Under TSCA
On December 4, 2013, EPA published a final rule requiring the electronic submission of certain documents under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA is promulgating amendments to reporting requirements under TSCA Section 4 (including test rules and Enforceable Consent Agreements (ECA)), TSCA Section 5, TSCA Section 8(a) Preliminary Analysis Information Rule (PAIR) at 40 C.F.R. Part 712, and TSCA Section 8(d) Health and Safety Data Reporting Rules at 40 C.F.R. Part 716. A copy of the rule, including a more detailed description of the new reporting requirements, is available online. ... read more >
December 6, 2013
Administration Releases Biannual Regulatory Agenda
On November 26, 2013, the Obama Administration released its biannual regulatory agenda for all federal agencies. A copy of the agenda is available online. EPA listed several top regulatory priorities, including "taking actions on toxics and chemical safety." The Agency states that it intends to take actions to protect chemical facility safety and security and that it "plans to take a range of identified regulatory actions for certain chemicals and assess other chemicals to determine if risk reduction action is needed to address potential concerns." EPA also lists in the ... read more >
December 6, 2013
EPA Requests Report On Assessing Safer Chemicals
EPA has requested a report from the National Academies Committee (the Committee) on options that governments, manufacturers, and retailers can use to compare the safety of various chemicals as they analyze potential substitutes for those chemicals. The report is expected early in 2014. During the initial meeting of the Committee last month, a representative from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that an OECD committee has identified more than 80 methods for selecting safer chemicals. OECD also intends to release a report identifying them early next ... read more >
December 6, 2013
EPA Publishes Proposed 2014 Standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard Progra
On November 29, 2013, EPA published its proposed rule on "2014 Standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program" and a "Notice of Receipt of Petitions for a Waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard." Copies of the proposed rule and notice published in the Federal Register are available online, and online. Comments on both are due by January 28, 2014. BRAG's coverage of the pre-published versions of the proposed rule and notice is available online. On December 5, 2013, EPA held a public hearing in Arlington, Virginia, on the proposed rule. The Agency heard from ... read more >
November 25, 2013
ABA Publishes Special “Green Chemistry” Issue of PCRRTK Newsletter
The ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Pesticides, Chemical Regulation, and Right-to-Know (PCRRTK) Committee Newsletter for November 2013 is a special issue devoted to Green Chemistry.  Topics covered include the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) enforcement of the Green Guides, EPA’s Design for the Environment program, Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Reform, and the Green Chemistry Movement, and the role of public disclosure policies in the selection of greener chemistries. The newsletter is available ... read more >
November 22, 2013
EPA Requests Comments On FY 2014-18 Strategic Plan And FY 2014-15 Agency Goals
On November 19, 2013, EPA's request for comment on its Draft FY 2014-2018 Strategic Plan was published in the Federal Register. In addition, according to the notice, EPA is proposing new FY 2014-2015 Agency Priority Goals. Comments are due by January 3, 2014. A copy of the notice is available online. As described in the notice, "The Strategic Plan provides the Agency's long-term direction and strategies for advancing human health and the environment." In addition, EPA has made targeted revisions to "[its] existing Plan that seek to advance efforts to address our ... read more >
November 15, 2013
House Committee Hearing on Toxic Substances Control Act
On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on CSIA, a bill to reform TSCA. CSIA was introduced earlier this year by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). Senator Vitter and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) are now working to move CSIA forward through the legislative process. A Law360 article recently published by Lynn Bergeson contains a detailed discussion of the significance and provisions of this legislation. With 25 bipartisan co-sponsors, CSIA is a "potentially politically viable framework for TSCA reform and ... read more >
November 15, 2013
Hearing on EPA Transparency
On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified as the sole witness before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on "Strengthening Transparency and Accountability within the Environmental Protection Agency." While the hearing was held as part of the Committee's annual oversight of EPA, it provided Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) an opportunity to question McCarthy on several concerns he reportedly had with EPA and appropriate transparency at the Agency. These included reports of EPA officials' use of outside e-mail ... read more >
November 15, 2013
Hearing on Power Plant Regulations
On Thursday, November 14, 2013, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY), held a hearing to discuss EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas standards for new power plants and draft legislation authored by Chairman Whitfield and Senator Joe Manchin. The hearing included three panels of ten witnesses, including Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and EPA Acting Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe, to discuss a potential legislative proposal by Subcommittee Chair Whitfield and Senator Manchin that would ... read more >
November 8, 2013
Members Of Congress Send Letter To EPA Urging Reduction In 2014 RFS Targets
On October 30, 2013, Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Peter Welch (R-VT), and Steve Womack (R-AR) sent a letter signed by 169 Members of Congress to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy urging EPA to use its authority to reduce the 2014 statutory renewable volume obligations (RVO) for all types of biofuels, including conventional corn starch ethanol under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). A copy of the letter is available online. The arguments made in the letter echo those put forth by the oil and gas industry and assert ... read more >
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