Archive | September, 2012

Ethanol gas standard in jeopardy?

7 Sep

This summer’s drought has caused livestock feed prices to soar and livestock producers are feeling the heat on their bottom lines as well.  In order to lower feed prices, producers are asking the U.S. EPA to waive the Renewable Fuels Standards, which requires 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol to be added to gasoline this year.  If past years are any indication, they shound not expect any action from the agency.  For example, in 2008 the EPA did not issue a waiver even though corn prices rose due to increased fuel, fertilizer and other costs.

If you have questions about the Renewable Fuels Standard, contact us at 773-609-5320, info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

So you think you know what is biomass?

5 Sep

At its most basic level biomass is usually considered organic material that may be burned to generate heat/electricity or converted to a liquid or solid fuel.  Biomass may be plant material: crops grown specifically to be a fuel (e.g., switchgrass and various prarie grasses); “waste” components of a plant (e.g., corn stover or sawdust); or plant derived products that no longer serve their original purpose (e.g., waste pallets or wood from demolished building stock).  Biomass may also be animal waste, aquatic plants or municipal wastes.

Anyone contemplating a biomass project is most likely doing so with the intent of receiving (state or federal) funding or inclusion in a certain government program and should pay attention to how biomass is defined in that program.  On the federal level alone, biomass has over a dozen different definitions and several statutes actually have multiple definitions (the Energy Policy Act of 2005 has 6 different definitions).  These statutory definitions include and exclude various of the above mentioned biomass categories.  Several of the federal statutes also distinguish between biomass located on federal and private lands. 

Biomass energy also faces an uncertain future as US EPA determines whether to consider biomass energy as carbon neutral.

If you have questions about biomass and whether your project complies with a specific program, contact us at 773-609-5320, info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

Section 1603 Cash Grant Application Tips

5 Sep

Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides a cash grant in lieu of ITC or PTC for renewable energy projects put into service on 2009, 2010 and 2011 or which commenced construction in 2009, 2010, or 2011.  The deadline for applications is the end of this month.  Needless to say “put into service” and “commenced construction” are both terms which the Treasury Department has fleshed out in respect to Section 1603 or during the course of other programs.

Here are some tips to maximize the likelihood of having a successful application and minimizing the stress of completing the paperwork:

1) Check both the actual phyiscal construction and 5% construction commencement boxes even if you are not absolutely sure you can support the claim at this time.  The Treasury Department will follow up for further information if your submission is incomplete, but the Treasury Department will not let you retroactively amend your application to check both boxes.

2) The 4B Narrative Box unnecessarily scares many applicants.  There are no magic words and the information included in the narrative box does not directly contribute to the success of an application.  The Treasury Department can use the information to help it get a better sense for the overall project, but the primary purpose appears to be to provide the department with descriptions of successful projects for agency reports.  Treasury officials have also recommended applicants include any other unique information about the project that cannot be included anywhere else.  

3) You do not need a SAM account to apply (the Treasury Department has been experiencing technical glitches with SAM as they migrate to a new system) for a Section 1603 Cash Grant.  You do need a SAM account to receive the grant once it is awarded.

4) If you do not receive your full award, you may choose to refuse the grant and opt for the ITC instead.

If you have questions about Section 1603 cash grant applications, contact us at 773-609-5320, info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

Illinois Benefit Corporation Law passed but not yet effective

5 Sep

Governor Quinn signed the Benefit Corporation bill on August 2, 2012 (Public Act 97-0885).  The new law does not go into effect, however, until January 1, 2013.

Benefit Corporations, also known as B Corps, are a new type of corporation in Illinois which actively adopt a general public benefit or one or more specific public benefits as a corporate goal (or a combination of a general and specific goals).  Legally speaking, this allows B Corps to pursue purposes other than maximizing profits without fear of a shareholder derivative lawsuit and, u nlike L3C s, a B Corp still make significant profits.  From a public relations standpoint, it allows a business to attract like-minded consumers.

The statute places ongoing reporting responsibilities on Benefit Corporations which are undertaken by a Benefit Director and a Benefit Officer.  The statue also creates a “benefit enforcement proceeding” as a means of making sure the general or specific goals of the B Corp are met.

If you have questions about B Corps, wish to create a B Corp, or wish to conert your existing business to a B Corp, contact us at 773-609-5320, info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

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