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SIGMA Weekly Report
May 20, 2022
2022 SIGMA Summer Legislative Conference
Below please find SIGMA's Weekly Report for Friday, May 20, 2022. You may also view a printable version.
 

Mark Your Calendars NOW, SIGMA’s Summer Legislative Conference is BACK!

 

FMCSA Waives HOS Restrictions for Gasoline, Diesel Deliveries, No Demonstration Required

  • As previously reported by SIGMA, on May 13th, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) waived Hours of Service (HOS) restrictions for haulers of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethyl alcohol, and heating fuel including propane, natural gas, and heating oil. 
  • The announcement came after SIGMA met several times with Biden Administration officials at the Departments of Energy and Transportation and the White House regarding fuel supply availability. 
  • On May 16th, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) posted new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding its May 13th Amendment of the Extension of the Modified Emergency Declaration.
  • Confirming SIGMA’s previous reporting of FMCSA’s intent, the FAQs clarify that Emergency Declaration does not require a motor carrier to demonstrate that the fuel commodities listed in the amendment are being hauled to support specific COVID-19 relief efforts.
  • In response to questions from SIGMA and others, FMCSA stated that the amendment covers only the fuel categories listed above, not additives – such as Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF).
  • SIGMA is working to expand the waiver to include DEF as market conditions develop. SIGMA will continue to monitor the situation and alert you to developments as they occur.

 

House Passes Gasoline Price Gouging Bill, SIGMA Opposes

  • On May 19th, the House passed legislation by a vote of 217-210 that would prohibit selling a consumer fuel, at wholesale or retail, in an area and during a period of an energy emergency declared by the President at a price that is “unconscionably excessive” and that indicates the seller is “exploiting the circumstances related to the energy emergency to increase prices unreasonably.” The bill also would give the Federal Trade Commission the authority to issue penalties.
  • In advance of the bill’s consideration by the full House, SIGMA sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) opposing the bill.
  • The bill will almost certainly not gain the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate – despite the support of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and so will not become law. Rather, it serves as a messaging vehicle for Democrats as they head home to their districts for the two week Memorial Day recess.

 

EPA Proposes Consent Decree for 2023 RVOS, Reportedly Considering Flexibility for Refiners

  • On Monday, May 23rd, EPA will publish in the Federal Register a proposed consent decree with Growth Energy to resolve the organization’s April suit regarding EPA’s failure to propose the 2023 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) by the October 31, 2021 statutory deadline.
  • The proposed consent decree would establish deadlines for EPA to establish the 2023 renewable fuel program volumes: signature of a proposed rule by September 16, 2022, and signature of a final rule by April 28, 2023. EPA intends to establish applicable percentage standards for obligated parties for 2023 in the same rulemaking that establishes volumes for 2023.
  • EPA will accept comments on the proposal until June 23rd.
  • EPA is also reportedly considering a plan to give refiners whose Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) petitions are denied more flexibility in fulfilling past RVOs.
  • The proposal, reportedly now under review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), comes as EPA prepares to issue its final RFS RVOs for 2022 and 2021 and retroactively revise its 2020 RVOs by June 3rd under a separate consent decree with Growth Energy.

 

SIGMA Calls on DOL to Abandon/Postpone Overtime Rule Changes to White Collar Exemption

  • On May 11, the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity (PPWO) – a coalition of which SIGMA is a member – sent a letter to Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh urging him to abandon or at least postpone issuance of the Department of Labor’s announced proposed rulemaking altering the overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
  • In its letter, PPWO called on DOL to abandon or at least postpone issuance of its announced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the “exemption of bona fide executive, administrative, and professional employees from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime requirements” (also known as the “white-collar” exemptions) “until the current economic situation stabilizes and improves to allow the American workforce, employer community, and DOL itself to more fully understand how the pandemic has shifted the paradigm of work in America.”
 
OPIS
 

Mark Your Calendars NOW, SIGMA’s Summer Legislative Conference is BACK!

SIGMA’s Summer Legislative Conference is BACK! Mark your calendars now and plan to attend July 19-20 in Washington, DC.

 

Three Reasons Why You Should Participate:

 

You are the best source of information. Members of Congress count on their constituents to provide information and perspective on the issues before them. You are the best source of information on the issues affecting our industry. Nothing makes a larger impression than a face-to-face meeting - and SIGMA's Summer Legislative Conference is the time to do it.

 

Simply stated, we need you. Your presence, your voice, your input, your opinion on the issues are all important and the more SIGMA members that participate, the greater the impact we will have on Congress. Make sure Congress knows how its actions will affect your business and our industry! 

 

It's easy! SIGMA will handle everything for you, from scheduling your appointments, giving you materials and talking points, and helping you feel comfortable and prepared. No experience is necessary – SIGMA will provide all the support you need to make your meetings with Members of Congress effective and uncomplicated.

 

Click Here for Conference Information and to Register

 

FMCSA Waives HOS Restrictions for Gasoline, Diesel Deliveries, No Demonstration Required

As previously reported by SIGMA, on May 13th, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) waived Hours of Service (HOS) restrictions for haulers of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethyl alcohol, and heating fuel including propane, natural gas, and heating oil.  The announcement came after SIGMA met several times with Biden Administration officials at the Departments of Energy and Transportation and the White House regarding fuel supply availability. 

 

The announcement technically amends an existing Hours of Service waiver for COVID-19 emergency response efforts.  The existing waiver, SIGMA explained, had been of limited utility to market participants because of a requirement that the fuel was being hauled as part of an emergency response to COVID-19. 

 

On May 16th, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) posted new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding its May 13th Amendment of the Extension of the Modified Emergency Declaration. Confirming SIGMA’s previous reporting of FMCSA’s intent, the FAQs clarify that Emergency Declaration does not require a motor carrier to demonstrate that the fuel commodities listed in the amendment are being hauled to support specific COVID-19 relief efforts. “FMCSA has determined that currently the production and transport of these fuels is significantly impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 National Emergency so no demonstration is required,” the FAQs state.

 

In response to questions from SIGMA and others, FMCSA stated that the amendment covers only the fuel categories listed above, not additives – such as Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF). SIGMA is working to expand the waiver to include DEF as market conditions develop. SIGMA will continue to monitor the situation and alert you to developments as they occur.

 

Source: U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

 

House Passes Gasoline Price Gouging Bill, SIGMA Opposes

On May 19th, the House passed legislation by a vote of 217-210 that would prohibit selling a consumer fuel, at wholesale or retail, in an area and during a period of an energy emergency declared by the President at a price that is “unconscionably excessive” and that indicates the seller is “exploiting the circumstances related to the energy emergency to increase prices unreasonably.” The bill also would give the Federal Trade Commission the authority to issue penalties.

 

In advance of the bill’s consideration by the full House, SIGMA sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) opposing the bill. In the letter, which was sent jointly with NACS and NATSO, SIGMA explained that high prices at the pump reflect the higher wholesale prices retailers must pay, which is not optimal for the industry as retail margins are “squeezed” when prices are high and consumers are less likely to make in-store purchases. Additionally, “[g]ouging is simply not a characteristic or driving force of the retail market,” SIGMA said.

 

SIGMA further stated that price gouging is opposed by all because of the harm it inflicts on consumers and the retail fuel industry and noted that most states already have laws to prohibit it. Because the bill does not preempt state laws, SIGMA noted that the overlap of a federal law with the existing state laws would create confusion and “unwarranted risk” of legal investigation and expenses as the state laws have different triggers for what constitutes an emergency than the federal law and apply different standards.

 

Although the bill passed the House, it did not have unanimous Democratic support, and even some Democrats who voted for it expressed skepticism that it would do anything to address high gas prices. The bill will almost certainly not gain the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate – despite the support of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and so will not become law. Rather, it serves as a messaging vehicle for Democrats as they head home to their districts for the two week Memorial Day recess.

 

Sources: BGov, Politico

 

EPA Proposes Consent Decree for 2023 RVOS, Reportedly Considering Flexibility for Refiners

On Monday, May 23rd, EPA will publish in the Federal Register a proposed consent decree with Growth Energy to resolve the organization’s April suit regarding EPA’s failure to propose the 2023 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) by the October 31, 2021 statutory deadline.

 

The proposed consent decree would establish deadlines for EPA to establish the 2023 renewable fuel program volumes: signature of a proposed rule by September 16, 2022, and signature of a final rule by April 28, 2023. EPA intends to establish applicable percentage standards for obligated parties for 2023 in the same rulemaking that establishes volumes for 2023. EPA will accept comments on the proposal until June 23rd.

 

EPA is also reportedly considering a plan to give refiners whose Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) petitions are denied more flexibility in fulfilling past RVOs. The proposal, reportedly now under review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), comes as EPA prepares to issue its final RFS RVOs for 2022 and 2021 and retroactively revise its 2020 RVOs by June 3rd under a separate consent decree with Growth Energy.

 

EPA has proposed denying all SRE petitions for 2019, 2020, and 2021 RVOs. The agency has already revoked 36 previously granted exemptions from 2018 requirements. The draft proposed rule currently under OMB review would reportedly create an “alternative RIN retirement schedule for small refineries.” If finalized, the plan could ease concerns that there are not sufficient RINs available for refineries to satisfy past blending requirements.

 

When EPA denied the 36 SRE petitions in April, the agency provided an alternate compliance approach that allowed the refineries to meet their new 2018 compliance obligations without purchasing or redeeming additional RINS. EPA granted the compliance flexibility because the Agency determined that there were “extenuating circumstances specific to that set of petitions, including the fact that SRE petitions were previously granted.” It is possible that the reported plan would follow a similar approach for the 2019, 2020, and 2021 denied petitions.

 

Source: U.S. Federal Register, BGov

 

SIGMA Calls on DOL to Abandon/Postpone Overtime Rule Changes to White Collar Exemption

On May 11, the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity (PPWO) – a coalition of which SIGMA is a member – sent a letter to Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh urging him to abandon or at least postpone issuance of the Department of Labor’s announced proposed rulemaking altering the overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

 

During recent listening sessions held by the agency over the past two months, the employer community has warned DOL that “the economy today cannot support changes to the white-collar exemptions under the FLSA.” “Due to significant concerns with supply chain disruptions, workforce shortages, inflationary pressures, and the shifting dynamics of the American workforce following the COVID-19 pandemic, any rule change now would be ill-advised. Importantly, DOL last updated the overtime regulations only three years ago, which strongly suggests there is no need for urgency in issuing more change,” PPWO said.

 

In its letter, PPWO called on DOL to abandon or at least postpone issuance of its announced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the “exemption of bona fide executive, administrative, and professional employees from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime requirements” (also known as the “white-collar” exemptions) “until the current economic situation stabilizes and improves to allow the American workforce, employer community, and DOL itself to more fully understand how the pandemic has shifted the paradigm of work in America.”

 

Source: Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity

 
 
 

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