SIGMA Share Groups are Going Virtual!
Due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that are affecting us all, SIGMA is taking our Share Groups scheduled for September 15-18 in Phoenix all virtual. Share Group rates have been discounted to reflect their virtual status.
Session One Share Groups will be September 15-16 from 11 AM – 5 PM Eastern each day.
Session One Share Groups include:
- HR Share Group
- Credit Share Group
Session Two Share Groups will be September 17-18 from 11 AM- 5PM Eastern each day.
Session Two Share Groups include:
- IT Share Group
- Transportation Share Group
- Maintenance/Environmental/Safety Share Group
- Mobile Fueling/Tankwagon/Cardlock Share Group
For additional information and to register, visit www.sigma.org/2020-share-groups.
SIGMA Needs You to Urge the Senate to Support Liability Protection
As negotiations ramp up and near conclusion, your voice matters even more on this critical issue. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, SIGMA members have worked bravely to provide Americans with the fuel and food they need. Some plaintiff’s lawyers, however, have already filed lawsuits against businesses for being the place where COVID-19 was contracted. Fuel marketers should not have to worry they will be sued for simply providing the products and services Americans need right now.
The SAFE TO WORK Act (S. 4317) would provide liability protection to all businesses, including SIGMA members, that make reasonable efforts to protect their employees and guests from unfounded lawsuits. SIGMA strongly supports this bill and is advocating to have it included as part of the next stimulus package that is currently being negotiated in Congress. Please contact your Senators and ask them to support this important legislation.
Click HERE to Send a Message to the Senate
SIGMA Submits Comments on EV Charging Infrastructure
On July 31st, SIGMA joined NACS and NATSO in submitting comments to Electrify America offering the associations’ “perspective as to how the rules and market dynamics governing the electric vehicle (EV) charging marketplace can be structured in a way that encourages existing fuel stations to make these investments.”
In the comments, the associations note that their respective members have invested “hundreds of millions of dollars over the last two decades” in fuels that are designed to displace petroleum-based fuels. These investments, the associations said, are a direct result of “incentive programs that make alternative fuels more attractive to retailers’ customers (i.e., the motoring public).”
“Our industry’s collective experience with these programs in recent years should inform any effort to move the market toward an alternative transportation fuel. Over time, our members have learned what policies encourage businesses to invest in alternative fuels, and what policies discourage such
investments. The more successful policies tend to be consumer-focused, and harness private sector engagement with alternative fuels markets while avoiding mandates on end-users to purchase specific types of fuel products. Conversely, retailers are reluctant to gravitate toward technologies if they do not believe there is a level playing field where they can meaningfully compete with other businesses on price and quality of service while also generating a return on their investments,” the comments state.
The high-level comments restated the associations’ position with regard to EV charging infrastructure and closed with an offer to work together with Electrify America to “ameliorate the existing roadblocks standing in the way of our industry’s broader investment in EV charging.”
Established by Volkswagen in late 2016 after its emissions scandal, Electrify America is one of the largest open DC Fast Charging networks in the United States and plans to invest $2 billion over a 10 year span in EV infrastructure, education and access.
Talks Continue on Next Stimulus Package
Talks between the Administration and House and Senate Democratic leadership continued slowly this week as both sides gave some concessions and held firm on other issues, slightly narrowing the gap between their positions as they work to craft the next COVID-19 stimulus package. Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said “no significant move toward progress” was made and that the Senate would delay its August recess and remain in session next week while discussions continue.
Also on Thursday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said if a deal is not reached today, there will not be one – implying that President Trump will instead take unilateral relief action through a series of Executive Orders. In this regard, President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he has directed his staff to continue working on an executive order that would include a payroll tax cut, eviction protections, unemployment benefits, and provisions regarding student-loan repayments.
Reportedly, the White House has offered $400 per week in supplemental unemployment benefits through December 14th, which Democrats have rejected, holding firm on the previous $600 a week supplemental amount. The Administration also reportedly offered $200 billion in state and local aid—including $105 billion for schools and universities — which is still far less than the $1 trillion Democrats are seeking.
In response, Democrats have reportedly indicated they could accept $10 billion in aid for the U.S. Postal Service in one year instead of the $25 billion over three years that was in the House stimulus package that was passed by the House in May. Although little progress has so far been made, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) expressed optimism that a deal will eventually be reached – saying “there is light at the end of the tunnel.” She also said, however, that it is unknown “how long the tunnel is.”
Dakota Pipeline Update
On August 5th, a federal appeals court ruled that the Dakota Access Pipeline can maintain operations while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) conducts a proper environmental review of the project. The decision overturns a ruling from the U.S. District Court that the pipeline must cease operations
and be emptied while a new environmental review is conducted. Energy Transfer, the company operating the pipeline, had sought an emergency stay of that ruling.
The Appeals Court did not alter U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg’s order to revoke an easement that allowed the pipeline to cross beneath a Missouri River reservoir near tribal lands. Attorneys for the tribal challengers said the order means the pipeline is now operating unlawfully.
According to the appeals court, the Corps did not make a strong case that the lower court judge was incorrect in his ruling that an environmental review of the pipeline should be completed, stating, “At this juncture appellants have failed to make a strong showing of likely success on their claims that the district court erred in directing the Corps to prepare an environmental impact statement.” The court said it expects the parties to “clarify their positions” in the lower court.
On July 6, Judge Boasberg ordered the pipeline closed within 30 days while the Corps conducts a more extensive environmental review than the one that allowed the pipeline to begin operations near the Standing Rock Indian
Reservation three years ago. The environmental review process could take more than a year, according to the Corps.
In his ruling, Judge Boasberg cited the “potential harm” the pipeline could cause before the Corps finishes its survey. He rejected Energy Transfer’s request to halt his order, sending the case to the three-judge appeals panel. The appellate court temporarily stayed Judge Boasberg’s order in mid-July to give it time to consider the case.
Republican Bill Would Extend Additional Unemployment Benefits Until 2021
As negotiations continued this week on another COVID-19 relief package, on August 5th Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Martha McSally (R-AZ) introduced a bill to extend currently expired unemployment insurance benefits to ensure that unemployed workers receive them through the end of this year. The bill would allow states flexibility to transition toward wage replacement and would phase in lower payments over the next five months. As previously reported by SIGMA, last week, the Senators introduced similar legislation that would ensure unemployed workers receiving federal benefits would continue to receive them for the next three months. The Senators hope to have the legislation included as an amendment to the stimulus package.
Specifically, The Romney-Collins-McSally proposal would preserve additional unemployment insurance benefits through the end of the year and provides flexibility to states, as they shift toward targeted wage replacement.
States can choose one of two options:
- $500 per week
- $400 per week if the state prefers not to change the payment amount again in September
$400 per week
October – December:
80% wage replacement, or;
States may seek a waiver for a flat $300 per week benefit if a state is unable to pay an amount tied to 80% of prior earnings.
The three Republican Senators released their legislation as the Trump Administration and Democrats clash in their COVID relief package negotiations on unemployment insurance. Senators Collins and McSally both face tough reelection campaigns at home so in putting
forth this proposal, the senators may be indicating their willingness to lean towards their Democratic colleagues as negotiations continue. Such a move would be important given the difficulty Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will have in passing a relief package.
Federated Insurance Offering Complementary Webinar on Cyber Risk Management
On August 18th, Federated Insurance is offering a webinar on Cyber Risk Management. This webinar is free to SIGMA members, but you must register in advance.
The webinar will discuss several layers of risk management that help reduce a business’s exposure, as well as coverage options available to transfer this risk to an insurance carrier. Cyber crime is the fastest growing and most dynamic exposure in business today and Federated will discuss strategies to minimize the risk.
Click HERE to Register
DTN Webinar on Triple Threat: COVID-19, Stagnant Economy, and Weak Oil Demand
On August 26th at 10:00 AM CDT, DTN is hosting a complimentary webinar on “Triple Threat:
COVID-19, Stagnant Economy, and Weak Oil Demand.” The webinar is a follow up to the webinar DTN hosted in April.
The Saudi Arabia-Russia price war ended, and for a little while, it looked like the world had turned the corner on the coronavirus. Businesses started opening, more drivers were on the road, the stock market recorded large gains, and people dared to float the word “recovery” in analyses. Now, however, the US is seeing record numbers of new COVID-19 cases almost daily. Mandatory mask orders are being issued by entities both public and private, and another lockdown seems likely.
The energy industry needs an update, and recognized expert Dominick Chirichella is here to help. Join DTN on August 26th for this exclusive webinar, where we’ll discuss:
• What is the state of global supply?
• Will demand recover this summer as driving increases?
• What does the collapse of the U.S.-China trade deal mean?
Click HERE to Register