Biobased and Renewable Products News: Federal

November 1, 2013
Getting to Yes: A Focused Workshop Addressing Key Policy, Legislative, and Regulatory Issues in Commercializing Biobased Products
2:30-5:30 p.m., November 11, 2013, at the Chemical Heritage Foundation Center in Philadelphia, PA Innovation is great, but commercializing innovations is even better. BRAG's Washington, D.C.-based team of government affairs experts, scientists, lawyers, and public policy managers will present a workshop to identify and discuss critical policy, legislative, and regulatory issues impacting the commercialization of renewable chemicals. Attendees will engage in focused discussions on current regulatory issues impacting the market, as well as a robust dialogue on expectations for the ... read more >
October 25, 2013
EPA Publishes Final Rule Modifying The RFS For Heating Oil
On October 22, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule modifying the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The rule is effective December 23, 2013. According to the notice: "EPA is amending the definition of 'heating oil' in the regulations for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program under section 211(o) of the Clean Air Act. This amendment expands the scope of renewable fuels that can be used to show compliance with the RFS renewable fuel volume obligations by adding an additional category of compliant renewable fuel referred to ... read more >
October 18, 2013
Leaked 2014 RFS Proposed Rule
Last week, part of EPA's much anticipated 2014 proposed RFS rule, or at least a draft of the rule, was leaked and widely disseminated. If the text of the leaked proposed rule is representative of the actual proposed rule, the oil and gas industry would likely view it more favorably than would the biofuels industry. In the leaked version of the proposal, EPA would use its authority under the RFS to adjust downward the cellulosic, advanced, and overall renewable fuel volume requirements for 2014. It would require obligated parties to blend or use 15.21 billion gallons of renewable fuel in ... read more >
October 18, 2013
Farm Bill Negotiations Move Forward
Leaders of the House of Representatives have named 29 Representatives to the conference committee that will work to consolidate the House and Senate versions of the next five-year Farm Bill into a final piece of legislation that will be passed by both Houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama. While House and Senate leaders assert their commitment to settling on and passing a final version of the next Farm Bill, getting to agreement will likely be difficult. One of the most contentious disagreements remains over how much to cut from nutrition programs, which have ... read more >
October 18, 2013
Supreme Court To Review EPA Greenhouse Gas Program
On the first day of its new term on October 15, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would grant review of parts of EPA's greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations. The Court will review part of the June 2012 decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which upheld EPA's GHG program. It will review whether EPA's GHG regulations for motor vehicles should have triggered Prevention of Significant Deterioration permitting for stationary sources. The case and its outcome could impact the current efforts of the Obama Administration to develop and ... read more >
October 4, 2013
Farm Bill Expires
Not only did the U.S. government shut down at midnight on Monday, but so did the nine month extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. With no new five-year Farm Bill, the future is uncertain for rural energy programs supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including the Biorefinery Assistance Program that promotes the development of biorefineries in the U.S. As we have reported earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the next five-year Farm Bill, including funding for farm, nutrition, and energy programs. Importantly, the Senate bill continues and provides ... read more >
September 27, 2013
EPA Funding
If the Continuing Resolution (CR) currently funding the government is allowed to expire on September 30, it could prove devastating to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Unlike other federal agencies, EPA cannot claim exceptions for many of its employees. In the event the CR expires, as EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asserted in public remarks this week, EPA "would effectively shut down." It would only have skeletal staff and would surely impact Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) work, among others. This fear about current EPA ... read more >
September 19, 2013
Safer Consumer Products Summit Recap
Improved utility of data, transparent supply chains, and transformative innovation were just some of the topics discussed by regulators, researchers, and industry at the 3rd Safer Consumer Products Summit: National Policy Outlook held in Washington, D.C. this week. Summit Chair Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner, B&C, opened the main summit by noting the dramatic shift in environmental law from the regulation of discharges of chemical substances into the environment (and their subsequent cleanup) to a more proactive focus on the regulation of chemicals in products -- especially consumer ... read more >
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 not prepared in final until August of this year, which was likely due to EPA concerns about setting the volumes amidst ... read more >
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 be categorically excluded from the new PSD and Title V greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting ... read more >
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 that he will hold a hearing on the President's CAP on September 18, 2013. Chair Whitfield, who does not ... read more >
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 power ... read more >
August 13, 2013
Join Summit Chair Lynn L. Bergeson for the 3rd Safer Consumer Products Summit - - National Policy Outlook
Early Bird Registration Deadline Friday, August 16, 2013! Join BRAG's Lynn L. Bergeson, Kathleen M. Roberts, and John H. Thorne, Ph. D. at the 3rd Safer Consumer Products Summit -- National Policy Outlook, September 17-19, 2013, Washington, D.C.   Presentations, panel discussions, and case studies will equip attendees to: Stay Ahead of the Regulatory Curve with the Most Up-to-Date Status on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Avoid Brand Reputation Risk and Stay on the Shelves with Updates on the Latest State-Level Policy Developments in ... read more >
August 8, 2013
EPA Issues Final Rule Establishing 2013 Renewable Volume Obligations
On August, 6, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited final rule setting the 2013 renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.'s memorandum on this is available online. The RVOs for 2013 are: (1) biomass-based diesel: 1.28 billion gallons; (2) advanced biofuels: 2.75 billion gallons; (3) cellulosic biofuels: 6 million gallons; and, conventional ethanol (mainly corn ethanol): 13.8 billion gallons. The rule will become immediately effective upon publication in the Federal Register. ... read more >
August 8, 2013
EPA To Review Air Toxics Standards For Petroleum Refineries
EPA has agreed to issue by December 19, 2014, a final rule on air toxics standards for petroleum refineries. EPA agreed to this deadline to settle a lawsuit that was brought by several environmental groups last year challenging EPA for missing the deadline under the Clean Air Act (CAA) by which EPA must review the standards. The petroleum industry has expressed disappointment in the settlement and upcoming ... read more >
August 8, 2013
EPA Asked To Act On Biogenic Carbon Rule
Several biomass groups sent a letter to newly sworn-in EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on August 1, 2013, urging EPA to find that bioenergy and other biogenic sources of greenhouse gas emissions are carbon neutral for purposes of new greenhouse gas permitting requirements under EPA's Tailoring Rule. As we reported on July 19, 2013, last month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated EPA's rule temporarily exempting these sources from the new greenhouse gas permitting requirements, which has created uncertainty for the industry going forward. In their letter to ... read more >
August 6, 2013
EPA Announces Final 2013 Renewable Fuel Standards
On August 6, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed its belated final rule establishing the 2013 renewable volume obligations (RVO) for the four fuel categories that are part of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program under the Clean Air Act (CAA): cellulosic biofuel; biomass-based diesel; advanced biofuel; and total renewable fuel. These standards apply to all gasoline and diesel produced or imported in 2013. Click here for our full memorandum regarding this regulatory ... read more >
August 2, 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 on bipartisan legislation to reform TSCA, recently introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and the ... read more >
August 2, 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 is available online. During the conference, speakers discussed the immense progress that has ... read more >
July 26, 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 of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), opposing her nomination out of ... read more >
July 26, 2013
EPA Urges Supreme Court To Deny Petitions Regarding GHG Regulation
On July 22, 2013, EPA petitioned the Supreme Court to deny various petitions by several states and industry groups to overturn EPA's GHG regulations under the CAA. These petitions had asked the Supreme Court to reconsider portions of Massachusetts v. EPA and to overturn EPA's (1) GHG endangerment finding pursuant to Massachusetts v. EPA, which enabled the Agency to carry out rulemakings to curb GHGs; (2) GHG permitting program for large stationary sources of the emissions; and (3) ability to regulate GHGs from stationary sources under the prevention of significant deterioration ... read more >
July 19, 2013
Federal Appeals Court Throws Out EPA Rule Temporarily Exempting Biogenic Carbon Emissions From New Permitting Requirements
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 to study and develop a proper method of accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from these sources. The court held that ... read more >
July 19, 2013
Federal Appeals Court Upholds EPA's Power To Regulate Interstate Air Emissions
Also on July 12, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued its decision in GenOn REMA, LLC v. EPA, et al. In a unanimous decision, the court held that the ability of states to petition EPA under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to force pollution reductions in other states so they may meet federal air standards preempts another CAA provision providing states three years to develop their individual state implementation plan outlining how they will come into compliance with federal air standards. States will not have to wait three years to request that EPA regulate emissions sources ... read more >
July 19, 2013
EPA Expected To Approve Barley As Feedstock Under RFS
EPA has announced that it will soon publish in the Federal Register a notice for comment on EPA's conclusion that the use of barley as a feedstock can meet the lifecycle emissions reductions requirements for both conventional and advanced biofuels under the RFS. These findings help ensure the likelihood that EPA will approve barley as a biofuels feedstock to help meet the volumetric requirements under the RFS. Specifically, EPA has found that: "barley, when used to make ethanol at facilities that use natural gas for all process energy, grid electricity, and drying 100% distillers ... read more >
June 27, 2013
President Obama Outlines Plan On Climate Change
On Tuesday, June 25, 2013, President Obama announced his new 21-page climate action plan in a speech he gave at Georgetown University. The plan is available online. Under the plan, the President will use his Executive authority under the Clean Air Act to curb harmful greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, he will issue a directive to EPA requiring the Agency to issue a proposed rule by next June (to be finalized a year later) that will limit greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants throughout the country. Other parts of the plan would help further the biofuels and renewable ... read more >
June 6, 2013
Senate Continues Consideration Of Farm Bill Legislation
On May 31, 2013, the U.S. Senate continued consideration of its version of the next five-year Farm Bill reauthorization legislation, S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (S. 954 or the Farm Bill). As we have reported, on May 14, 2013, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry (Senate Agriculture Committee), led by Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), marked-up and passed S. 954 by a vote of 15-5. The legislation includes significant support for renewable energy. As amended by the Senate Agriculture Committee, it includes an energy title with $900 ... read more >
June 6, 2013
RFS Target Of House Subcommittee Hearing
On Wednesday, June 5, 2013 Chair James Lankford (R-OK) of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements held a hearing on "Up Against the Blend Wall: Examining EPA'S Role in the Renewable Fuel Standard." The content and focus of the hearing focused on the federal RFS and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) implementation of the policy. It represents another effort in Congress among RFS opponents to work toward significant reform or repeal of the law. Witnesses included the current Director of EPA's ... read more >
June 6, 2013
EPA Petitions Supreme Court To Deny Review Of E15 Ruling By Lower Court
On May 30, 2013, EPA filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to deny requests by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (together petitioners) that the Court review recent decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia regarding E15. In August 2012, for lack of standing, the D.C. Circuit Court upheld by a 2-1 majority EPA's waivers, issued in 2010 and 2011, of E15 for certain vehicles after 2001. Though D.C. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh issued a strong ... read more >
May 17, 2013
Farm Bill
  This week, the Agriculture Committees in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed their versions of the next five-year Farm Bill. The full Senate is expected to consider its version of the Farm Bill on May 20, while the full House is not expected to consider its version until later this year. Below, please find brief summaries of Farm Bill activities this week, particularly as they relate to renewable chemicals and biofuels. Senate On May 14, 2013, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, led by Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), marked-up ... read more >
May 2, 2013
Leaders Announce Plans To Consider Farm Bill
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stated publicly that he would like the full Senate to consider a Farm Bill this month after the Senate Agriculture Committee marks up and passes its version of the legislation. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has reportedly stated that she plans to schedule a mark-up of her Committee's version of the next Farm Bill sometime this month. Biofuel and renewable chemical supporters are working hard to ensure that this year's version of the next five-year Farm Bill will include a strong energy title that helps ... read more >
May 2, 2013
Tax Reform
Last week, the Senate Finance Committee released its latest position paper as part of its ongoing effort to outline and propose ways to accomplish broad based tax reform. The position paper (available online) includes potential ways to reform energy tax incentives. An idea presented in the paper is to consider whether the various existing biofuel incentives should be eliminated and replaced with biofuel incentives based on technology ... read more >
May 2, 2013
Oil Industry Requests Extension Of Tier 3 Comment Deadline
EPA published a notice in the Federal Register on April 8, 2013, announcing a June 13, 2013, deadline for comments on its proposed "Tier 3" fuel and vehicle emissions rule. In March, EPA released the rule on its website available online. The rule has yet to be published in the Federal Register. Last week, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) sent a letter to Robert Perciasepe, Acting EPA Administrator, requesting the deadline for comment on the rulemaking be extended until 90 days after it is officially published in the Federal Register. AFPM claims the ... read more >
April 25, 2013
Senate EPW Committee Expected To Take Up EPA Nominee
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has stated that she expects the Committee to consider and vote on President Obama's pick for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Gina McCarthy, in the coming weeks. The nomination is expected to pass the Committee and the full Senate despite recent public statements by Committee Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK) that he will not support McCarthy. McCarthy has served as EPA's Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation since 2009. In this position, McCarthy has helped oversee among ... read more >
April 25, 2013
Renewable Chemicals Eligible Under Reintroduced MLP Legislation
On April 24, 2013, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) reintroduced the "Master Limited Partnership Parity Act," legislation that would give certain renewable energy companies the ability to organize themselves as master limited partnerships (MLP). Currently, only energy companies in traditional fossil fuel sectors may organize as MLPs. Renewable energy advocates support this MLP legislation as a potential tool to help raise much needed capital, as MLPs are taxed as partnerships, but establish ownership shares that can be traded like traditional stock on an exchange. This year's ... read more >
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