Lignetics: Manufacturer of Premium Wood Pellets, Pres-to-Logs® Fire Logs, and Fire Starters

Welcome to Lignetics' blog where we will be posting current information about the wood pellet, fire log, and fire starter industry. We welcome your comments and additions as we develop what we hope will be an up-to-date information center on all developments concerning wood pellets and fire logs.
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From Biomass Magazine

By Erin Voegele

On July 2, the White House issued a memo on modernizing the regulatory system for biotechnology products to heads of the U.S. EPA, USDA and U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The memo defines “biotechnology products” as those developed through engineering of the targeted or in vitro manipulation of genetic information of organisms, including plants, animals, and microbes. It also covers some of the products produced by such plants, animals, and microbes, or their derived products. The memo does not target products such as human drugs and medical devices.

The memo explains that in 1986, the Office of Science and Technology Policy issued the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology (CF), which describes the comprehensive federal regulatory policy for ensuring the safety of biotechnology products. An update of the CF was issued in 1992 that sets forth a risk-based, scientifically sound basis for the oversight of activities that introduce biotechnology products into the environment. According to the memo, the update affirmed that federal oversight would focus on the characteristics of the product and the environment into which it is being introduced, rather than the process by which the product is created.

The memo notes that each federal regulatory agency with jurisdiction over the products of biotechnology has developed regulations and guidance documents to implement its authority under existing laws. This has resulted in a complex system for assessing and managing health and environmental risks of the products of biotechnology. “While the current regulatory system for the products of biotechnology effectively protects health and the environment, in some cases unnecessary costs and burdens associated with uncertainty about agency jurisdiction, lack of predictability of timeframes for review, and other processes have arisen,” said the White House in the memo. “These costs and burdens have limited the ability of small and mid-sized companies to navigate the regulatory process and of the public to understand easily how the safety of these products is assured; and, accordingly, they have the potential to reduce economic growth, innovation, and competitiveness.”  

According to the memo, advances in technology have also dramatically altered the biotechnology landscape since the CF update was released in 1992. “A further update of the CF is needed to facilitate the appropriate federal oversight by the regulatory system and increase transparency, while continuing to provide a framework for advancing innovation,” said White House in the memo.

The document outlines several one-year objectives, including the development of an updated CF to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the agencies that regulate the products of biotechnology. The memo also calls for the formulation of a long-term strategy to ensure that the federal regulatory system is equipped to efficiently assess the risks, if any, associated with future products of biotechnology while supporting innovation, protecting health and the environment, promoting public confidence in the regulatory process, increasing transparency and predictability, and reducing unnecessary costs and burdens. In addition, the memo call for commissioning an external, independent analysis of the future landscape of biotechnology products.

To support those objectives, the memo establishes a new Biotechnology Working Group under the Emerging Technologies Interagency Policy Coordination Committee. Within one year, the working group is tasked with updating the CF and developing a long-term strategy to ensure that the federal regulatory system is equipped to efficiently assess any risks associated with future products of biotechnology while supporting innovation, protecting health and the environment, maintaining public confidence in the regulatory process, increasing transparency and predictability, and reducing unnecessary costs and burdens. For at least five years after the release of the long-term strategy, the working group is directed to produce an annual report on specific steps that agencies are taking to implement the strategy and any other steps the agencies are taking to improve the transparency, coordination, predictability and efficiency of the regulation of biotechnology products. The memo also directs the EPA, FDA and USDA to commission an external, independent analysis of the future landscape of biotechnology products and directs the three agencies to work with the OSTM and Office of Management and Budget to develop a plan for supporting the implementation of the memo in agency fiscal year 2017 budget requests and in future budget submissions, as appropriate.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization has spoken out in support of the memo. “BIO commends the White House for recognizing that coordination between the agencies that oversee the approval of biotech products – the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – must be a priority to encourage innovation by improving transparency, timeliness and predictability of the regulatory system,” said Matt O’Mara, acting vice president of BIO’s Food & Agriculture Section.

“BIO supports a regulatory system that is timely, predictable, based upon the best available science, and incorporates 20+ years of experience with the technology,” O’Mara continued. “We look forward to reviewing the proposal in more detail and working with the administration on this moving forward.”
A full copy of the memo can be downloaded from the White House website.

Read the original here.

By Gus Trompiz, Edited by Mark Heinrich

(Reuters) - Euronext is to launch its first derivatives focused on the energy sector by introducing wood pellet futures later this year, tapping into demand for wood pellets as a renewable source for heating, the exchange said on Monday.
Set for introduction this autumn, the scheme will be backed by physical delivery to offer price hedging for producers and distributors in a European market that consumes 80 percent of global production of wood pellets for heating, it said.
"This is our first contract dedicated exclusively to renewable energy," Ulrich von Furstenberg, commodities product manager at Euronext, told Reuters.

"There is significant volatility on this market. Operators can also choose between fuel, gas and wood pellets so they are exposed to volatility on all three products."

Euronext would apply the ENplus A1 standard of the European Pellet Council to target the residential and institutional heating market, as opposed to the power plant segment, he said.

Physical delivery at the expiry of futures would be in a zone encompassing the ports of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Ghent and be on a free-on-barge basis.

The euro-denominated futures would trade in 25-tonne lots with four positions - March, June, September, December - listed per year. Options will not be offered initially.

Euronext, best known for its equities markets, runs commodity derivatives spanning cereals, oilseeds and dairy products.

It has cited energy along with metals as potential areas of development in commodities. Euronext's rapeseed oil contract launched last year is aimed partly at the biofuel sector that uses the edible oil as a feedstock in biodiesel.

Read the original here.

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In 2011, we noticed a glaring omission in an annual U.S. government publication.  The annual Winter Fuel Report failed to mention wood and pellets, one of the most common heating fuels in America. Members of Congress were also appalled. The next year, the report began covering wood and pellet heat, not just fossil fuel heat.

Now we find the same parent agency, the U.S. DOE, omitting any mention of wood and pellet heating in a major, consumer-oriented publication and inserting the word solar where wood and pellets should be. The publication, Energy Saver: Tips on Saving Money & Energy at Home, is one of the DOE’s main consumer-oriented energy efficiency     publications. The glossy, 41-page booklet is distributed free of charge and contains scores of excellent suggestions on how to save on your utility bills.

The section on renewable energy tells consumers they have many options for using renewable energy at home, including solar and small wind turbines. The booklet also discusses geothermal and solar thermal.  It states: “Solar panels are the most popular form of renewable energy today.”

There are not even half a million homes with solar panels and about 10 million homes with wood or pellet stoves. On an annual basis, wood and pellet stoves still outsell solar panels. By 2020, there still be less than one million homes with solar. Even if the high estimates are correct, the number of homes using solar is still less than half the number of those with installed stoves. So why does the DOE say solar panels are the most popular form of residential energy, and why does it not even mention wood or pellet stoves in the renewable energy section?

It’s understandable that wood stoves aren’t being endorsed as an energy pathway that should rapidly expand (particularly in western states where inversions often trap particulates). But pellet stoves and boilers provide an excellent option for homeowners in most of the country to reduce fossil fuels and affordably heat their homes without producing excessive emissions. 

About 10 states offer rebates or tax incentives to install pellet stoves or boilers. There are liberal leading states that are trying to expand residential renewable energy deployment, such as Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Vermont. Then there are more conservative states, like Idaho, Maine, Montana and New Hampshire, which also see the benefits of helping households use a local renewable resource to affordably heat their homes. Why is the DOE so out of touch with what is happening around the country?

As the Obama administration and much of the country is increasingly focused on reducing fossil fuel use, the main federal agency in charge does not even see fit to mention a powerful HVAC device that drastically reduces or eliminates fossil heating fuels in more than 10 million U.S. homes. 
A $2,000 or $3,000 dollar pellet stove can easily provide 40 to 100 percent of most homes’ space heating needs.  A typical 5-kW array of solar panels can provide about the same amount of energy in a year as a pellet stove can provide in four to five months. 

The DOE should initiate more programmatic work on wood heat.  Short of that, it should at least acknowledge the existence of wood and pellets in booklets like this and help educate homeowners about how they can best use them.  For instance, this booklet could urge homeowners to upgrade from an old, uncertified wood stove to a cleaner, more efficient pellet stove.  It could also explain how modern, automated pellet boilers, like the ones that are so popular now in Europe, can provide both space and water heating and are a great complement to solar panels.

Accuracy and honesty are above all important, and ignoring the efforts of more than 10 million homes does not advance our common efforts to reduce fossil fuel use. The DOE should be striving to reach diverse constituencies, not just the urban, affluent people who can afford more expensive energy upgrades like solar panels or wind turbines.  The booklet even suggests small wind turbines are good to charge a sailboat battery.  A sailboat battery?  What audience is DOE trying to reach? 

The demographic who could install small wind turbines is relatively small, and those who would use them to charge a sailboat battery is miniscule, but the demographic that could benefit from pellet stoves is huge.

It would help if there were an Energy Star label for wood and pellet stoves, so that federal and state agencies could better guide the deployment of these technologies as they do for all other major HVAC appliances. However, the development of such a label may be years away. For now, simply acknowledging the existence of wood and pellet stoves as a popular renewable energy option and educating the public about how and where to best use them is a good start.

Read the original here.

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From Biomass Magazine

By Erin Voegele

The USDA has announced its intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) to assess the potential environmental consequences associated with proposed discretionary changes to the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. A public comment period on the matter is now open.

According to a notice posted in the Federal Register, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency will prepare the PEIS on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corp. The notice informs the public of FSA’s intent to seek public comment on potential changes being considered for BCAP and on environmental concerns related to the proposed changes. Preparation of the PEIS is required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The USDA indicated the input it receives as part of the notice will enable the development of alternatives for implementing the proposed changes to BCAP and begin to evaluate the impacts of those alternatives, as required by NEPA.  

The notice explains that the purpose of the PEIS process is to provide FSA decision makers, other agencies, tribes and the public with an analysis of the potential beneficial, adverse, and cumulative environmental impacts associated with proposed discretionary changes to BCAP.

In 2010, a final PEIS for BCAP was published by the FSA.  According to the notice, that PEIS evaluated environmental consequences of establishing and administering the BCAP as specified in the 2008 Farm Bill. Since 2010, environmental assessments have been prepared for various project areas and for specific feedstocks.

The 2014 Farm Bill amended and reauthorized BCAP through 2018. According to the notice, the 2014 Farm Bill included a number of non-discretionary changes to the program. Those changes are primarily administrative in nature, do not alter the general scope of the program, and have already been implemented through rulemaking.

The notice explains the FSA is currently considering discretionary changes to the way BCAP is implemented. Those discretionary changes define the scope for the new PEIS.

According to the notice, the proposed discretionary changes aim to improve the functionality and flexibility of the establishment and annual payments as part of BCAP. No discretionary changes are being proposed for the matching payments part of BCAP.

The proposed changes include consideration and review of additional crops, such as pongamia pinnata, giant miscanthus seeded and rhizome clones, giant reed, pennycress, energy cane, biomass sorghum, sweet sorghum, yellowhorned fruit tree, eastern cottonwood, kenaf, jatropha, eucalyptus (fast growing), castor beans, short-rotation pine, tropical maze, hybrid willow, sweetgum, black locust, loblolly pine, aspen, rubber rabbitbrush, and guayule.

A separate proposed change would add requirements or additional practices for conservation plans on expiring conservation reserve program (CRP) or agricultural conservation easement program (ACEP) land acres that would be enrolled in BCAP project areas.

In addition, the notice includes the potential for enrolling annual crops in BCAP project areas for contracts of less than five years.

Additional proposed changes would establish program management processes that could help offset the lack of crop insurance for biomass crops or provide sufficient information for the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program to establish coverage, and would address treatment of the required FSA annual rental reductions in the event of no bioenergy market and use for the harvested or collected biomass crops.
According to information published in the notice, the FSA plans to hold a series of scoping meetings to provide information on the proposed changes to BCAP and solicit input from program participants, the public and other stakeholders on the environmental impacts of the proposed changes and alternatives to the proposed changes. Meetings are scheduled to be held July 14 in Sacramento, California; July 15 in Honolulu; Aug. 3 in Raleigh, North Carolina; Aug. 4 in Orlando, Florida; and Aug. 5 in Sioux City, Iowa.
Comments on the proposed discretionary changes are due July 13. An additional opportunities for public comment will be available on the PEIS when it is developed.

Additional information is available in the Federal Register notice.

Read the original here.

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