EPA: Chartered SAB to review biogenic framework

By Erin Voegele | March 01, 2016

The U.S. EPA has scheduled a public meeting of the chartered Science Advisory Board March 31-April 1. During the meeting, the SAB is expected to conduct a quality review of a draft report on the accounting framework for biogenic carbon emissions.

In 2012, the SAB completed a review of the first draft accounting framework for biogenic emissions. That draft framework was completed in 2011. In November 2014, the EPA published an updated version of the framework and requested SAB conduct additional review. According to information published by the EPA in the Federal Register, the purpose of the 2014 framework is to develop a method for calculating the adjustment, or biogenic assessment factor (BAF), for carbon emissions associated with the combustion of biogenic feedstocks, taking into account the biological carbon cycle effects associated with their growth, harvest and processing. The Federal Register notice explains that the SAB convened the Biogenic Carbon Emissions Panel to review the framework.

Information published in the notice indicates the chartered SAB will conduct a quality review of the panel’s draft report before it is transmitted to the EPA administrator. This quality review process aims to ensure that all draft reports developed by SAB panels, committees or workgroups are reviewed and approved by the chartered SAB before being finalized and transmitted to the administrator.

On Feb. 8, the SAB’s Biogenic Carbon Emissions Panel posted an updated draft report to the EPA’s website. A previous draft was published in late August. The panel held several meetings and teleconferences on the revised framework last year, including a meeting in March and teleconferences in May, July, August and September.

In late January, the EPA announced plans to hold a workshop on the role of biomass under the Clean Power Plan on April 7.In February, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke briefly about biomass and the Clean Power Plan during a congressional hearing hosted by the House Committee on Agriculture, noting the EPA expects biomass to be a “really important” part of compliance plans submitted by many states.

During the upcoming meeting, the chartered SAB board is also expected to discuss information provided by the EPA on planned actions in the fall 2015 semi-annual regulatory agenda and their supporting science. In addition, the board is expected to receive briefings from the EPA Office of Research and Development and the Office of the Science Advisor.

In its notice, the EPA stresses that public input for consideration by its federal advisory committees and panels has a different purpose than public comments provided to EPA program offices. The process for submitting comments is also different. According to the EPA, federal advisory committees and panels, including science advisory committees, provide independent advice to the EPA. Members of the public can submit relevant comments pertaining to the EPA’s charge, meeting materials, or the group providing advice. EPA has indicated input from the public to the SAB will have the most impact if it provides specific scientific or technical information or analysis for the SAB to consider or if it relates to the clarity or accuracy of the technical information. Additional information on how to provide public input or request to make an oral statement is available on the Federal Register website.