What is Your Pandemic Response? SIGMA Wants to Know!
With the initial shock of COVID-19 behind us, now is your chance to share how your organization stepped up. Whether your company collected donations for frontline workers, provided meals, or donated critical supplies, SIGMA wants to know your stories. SIGMA’s November/December issue of IGM magazine will feature stories highlighting how SIGMA members have adapted and responded to the ongoing pandemic. Don’t be left out!
Story submissions should be 400-600 words and sent as a Word document. They will be subject to editing. Please also send your company logo so we can feature your company’s efforts!
Send your story and logo to email@example.com by October 15th. Questions? Contact Amy Rider at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register Today for SIGMA’s 2020 Virtual Annual Conference!
SIGMA’s 2020 Annual Conference is going virtual and will now be November 9-13 – an entire week of timely education and live networking via virtual meeting rooms! Registration rates have been adjusted to reflect the transition to virtual and are now per company rather than per person – making it easy for more members of your team to participate.
Conference highlights include enhanced education sessions and impactful networking opportunities. The conference will be available for an extended period of time to registered attendees on a secure platform, providing timely, valuable, and relevant content to our members and facilitating SIGMA’s rich networking traditions via virtual meeting rooms.
For full SIGMA 2020 Virtual Annual Conference information and to register, Click HERE.
EPA Denies “Gap-Year” Small Refinery Exemption Petitions
On September 14th, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler issued a letter denying the dozens of so-called “gap-year” small refinery exemption (SRE) petitions to Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program blending requirements. Following a decision by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year that said refiners must have held exemptions continuously since the inception of the RFS in order to be eligible to apply for waivers, refiners submitted 68 petitions from 17 small refineries in 14 states for the intervening “gap” years to create such a record.
In his letter, Administrator Wheeler said he based his decision to deny the petitions largely on the advice of the Department of Energy, which determined in July that the refineries did not suffer significant economic hardship in the years for which the exemptions were requested. Today’s action does not affect the pending petitions for exemptions from 2019 and 2020 RFS blending requirements.
EPA’s decision to deny the “gap-year” petitions comes after a statement by President Trump to Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) that he would personally speak to EPA about them following her plea that they be denied and is another effort by President Trump to bolster his reelection support in Iowa and other farm-belt states.
Relatedly this week, five House Democrats who represent farm states were joined by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senator Ernst in sending a letter to EPA demanding that the agency comply with requests from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to provide documentation related to RFS SREs. According to the letter, EPA has refused requests for documents related to the SRE waivers because confidential business information must be redacted. GAO, however, is a federal agency with its own statutory access authority. Under that authority, federal regulations “describe a process for notifying businesses” of agency access to their confidential information, but “do not describe any conditions under which access would not be provided,” the letter states.
House Moderates Unveil Stimulus Bill, Speaker Says House in Session Until Deal Reached
On September 15th, a bipartisan group of 50 moderate members of the House unveiled a $1.52 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill in an attempt to break the deadlock between the House and the Trump Administration on providing additional pandemic relief to citizens and the economy.
The Problem Solvers Caucus plan contains key compromises on aid to state and local governments and supplemental unemployment insurance: $500 billion for states and localities (approximately halfway between the $915 billion proposed by the House leadership and the $150 billion proposed by the Administration) and $450 per week for eight weeks of supplemental unemployment insurance, capped at 100% of previous wages or $600 per week – whichever is lower. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has advocated for $600 per week in additional unemployment benefits, while the White House has proposed limiting the benefits to $300 per week because the $600 level disincentivizes people to return to work. The plan also would provide an additional round of $1,200 direct stimulus payments for most Americans with a $500 per child additional stipend.
After the proposal was released, several House Democratic Committee chairs issued a joint statement saying the Problem Solvers Caucus plan would not go far enough to address medical or economic needs—rendering the proposal effectively dead on arrival. “While we appreciate every attempt at providing critical relief to American families, the Problem Solvers Caucus’ proposal falls short of what is needed to save lives and boost the economy,” the group of committee leaders said in a joint statement. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) also told reporters the moderate proposal for funding is “lower than a responsible deal.”
The bipartisan proposal also failed to garner traction among Republicans in the Senate. Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) called the proposal was “problematic” because of the amount of state and local aid included. President Trump, however, urged Republicans to support a larger stimulus bill, tweeting “Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!).”
Speaker Pelosi indicated this week that the House will remain in session beyond the scheduled October 1st recess until an agreement on a COVID-19 stimulus bill is reached. Senate Republicans, however, are not planning to remain in Washington. Senator Thune confirmed the plan to complete work on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government beyond the September 30th deadline next week, freeing Senators to return home to campaign and return to Washington after the November elections.
House Democrats Prepare to Vote on Energy Bill
On September 15th, House Democrats released the Clean Economy and Jobs Innovation Act (H.R. 4447) with the intention of bringing the bill to the floor next week. H.R. 4447 is a comprehensive energy package aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions through changes to the transportation, electric and manufacturing sectors of the economy. The bill combines proposals introduced in the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and serves as a political marker heading into the November election to show a commitment to address climate change and stimulate the economy in response to the downturn caused by COVID-19.
Of note to SIGMA members, the legislation includes an electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure rebate program, a transportation electrification grant program, and provides $2.5 billion per year for five years to entities converting manufacturing facilities to develop EVs and supporting technology. H.R. 4447 is expected to pass with minimal changes.
House leadership made the decision to bring forward an energy bill following news that there was a breakthrough in the Senate on the bipartisan energy legislation sponsored by Senate Energy Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV). Murkowski’s bill had been under consideration by the Senate in late February but a disagreement over an amendment to regulate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) stalled further action. Last week, negotiators on the HFC amendment reached an agreement allowing the Murkowski-Manchin bill to proceed to the floor. The Senate has begun the “hotline” process of checking with each office to determine if any Senators plan to place a hold on the bill. It is unlikely the bill will proceed without objection, but if it did, it would open the door to a conference negotiation with a House bill that contained similar titles.
EU to Investigate Extension of Anti-Dumping Duties Against U.S. Biodiesel
On September 14th, the European Union’s (EU’s) European Commission launched an investigation to extend anti-dumping measures currently in place against U.S. biodiesel. The European biodiesel board requested the investigation and is asking for an extension of the duties on U.S. biodiesel imports for an additional five years.
Because of unused production capacity in the United States and the attractiveness of the EU market in terms of volume of consumption, the Commission has indicated there is “sufficient evidence” that imports of U.S. biodiesel would increase if the anti-dumping measures are allowed to lapse.
The investigation is likely to last 12-15 months and the existing duties on U.S. biodiesel will remain in place until its conclusion.
This week in advance of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Sally, several Gulf Coast states in the storm’s path issued emergency declarations, which waive federal hours of service (HOS) requirements for commercial drivers responding to the emergency.
In addition, on September 16th, the Federal Motor Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) Southern Service Center issued an Amended Emergency Declaration for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Mississippi Emergency Declaration
Louisiana Emergency Declaration
Alabama Emergency Declaration
Florida Emergency Declaration (certain counties)
For full waiver information, visit SIGMA’s
COVID/Waivers page on the SIGMA website.
Euler Hermes Offering Free Webinar on Economic Trends: Navigate the Insolvency Storm
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM ET
The rippling effects of the COVID-19 crisis have caused an extraordinary surge in insolvencies throughout an already declining economy. In this webinar, our presenters will discuss the current and future state of the economy, industry insights, and bankruptcy trends you should be cognizant of as you navigate the insolvency storm.
There is no cost to SIGMA members to participate in the webinar, but you must register in advance.
Questions? Contact Noll Saunders at (214) 998.1750 or email@example.com.
Click Here to Register