It’s Not Too Late to Register for SIGMA’s Virtual Advocacy Week? We Need You!
It’s not too late to register to participate in SIGMA’s Virtual Advocacy Week! By transitioning from our traditional two day, in-person meeting to a full week of virtual meetings, we will have additional time and flexibility to schedule meetings with Members of Congress and senior staff. Once you register, Steptoe & Johnson will contact you regarding your availability and schedule virtual meetings with you during the week. A member of the Steptoe team will also participate with you in all scheduled virtual meetings.
We have several priority issues that Congress will be actively considering in July, including liability protection for essential businesses, the Highway bill, and infrastructure funding. SIGMA needs your participation to make sure we are able to reach as many Members of Congress as possible to tell them what our industry needs. Because we now have a full week and no travel is necessary it is easier than ever to participate – whether it is from your office, your home office, or your vacation location. All we need is a few hours of your time over the course of a week.
SIGMA will send you briefing videos/materials for you to review prior to your meetings. The week will kick off with a webinar with Steptoe & Johnson on Monday, June 20th from 4-5:30 Eastern to go over any issue updates and the logistics of how the week will proceed. A link to the webinar will be provided.
Click Here to Register for SIGMA’s FREE Virtual Advocacy Week
Thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Altria Distribution Group Company, there is no cost to participate in SIGMA’s Virtual Advocacy Week. In lieu of your registration fee, if you would like to make a voluntary, tax deductible donation to SIGMA’s Fuel Foundation to further our digital education offerings, Click Here.
SIGMA Needs You to Ask Congress for Liability Protection!
SIGMA members have worked bravely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure Americans have access to 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. Businesses that continue to operate as essential critical infrastructure should not have to worry they will be sued for simply providing the products and services Americans need right now.
This week, Representatives Garret Graves (R-LA) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced H.R. 7528, the Get America Back to Work Act, that would provide liability protection for essential businesses, including fuel marketers and their suppliers. Please urge your Representative to co-sponsor this bipartisan bill.
Click HERE to Send a Message to Congress
Bipartisan Former EPA, DOT Officials Back California in Waiver Suit
This week, a bipartisan group of EPA Administrators and Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretaries filed a brief supporting California in its suit against EPA for revoking its waiver allowing the state to set more stringent fuel economy standards than the federal government. In their brief, the group states that the Trump Administration’s decision to revoke California’s waiver has “no valid legal, factual, or logical basis.”
The brief was filed by former DOT Secretaries Federico Pena, Rodney Slater, Norman Mineta, Ray LaHood, and Anthony Foxx and former EPA Administrators William Reilly, Carol Browner, Christine Todd Whitman, and Lisa Jackson. “It is particularly puzzling that DOT and EPA for decades expressed no preemption concern with California standards that would reduce fuel economy and thereby hinder compliance with [the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act], yet now seek to undermine standards that would, if anything, facilitate compliance,” the former officials said. Revocation of California’s waiver “undermines the sound and consistent administration of our nation’s iconic environmental and energy law,” they stated.
Separately, 29 Democratic Senators and 117 Democratic members of the House filed a brief arguing that the Trump Administration’s arguments in favor of preempting California’s waiver authority “conflict with Congress’ express and consistent intent to ensure that states maintain the authority to regulate vehicle emissions to protect air quality and public health.”
California filed the suit following the Administration’s 2019 decision to rescind its special waiver that allowed it and more than a dozen other states to enforce more stringent tailpipe emissions standards. The decision to rescind the waiver was made before EPA’s rollback of the Obama Administration’s CAFE standards.
The court will continue to receive briefs in the case until this fall, with groups who support the Trump Administration filing in September. Oral arguments are anticipated to be scheduled for late 2020 or early 2021.
Judge Maintains Dakota Shutdown Order, Pipeline Still Operating
On July 7th, Judge James Boasberg, the federal judge who ordered the shutdown of the Dakota Pipeline by August 5th, rejected pipeline owner Energy Transfer’s request for an immediate stay, although the judge said he would soon discuss a schedule for deciding whether to allow the pipeline to continue to operate pending an appeal of his decision. Energy Transfer was ordered to empty the pipeline of oil in 30 days to allow the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to conduct a court-ordered environmental review.
The judge’s ruling to shut down an existing pipeline came after his determination that the Corps failed to conduct a proper environmental review as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. In issuing the ruling, Judge Boasberg said the seriousness of the Corps’ failure in granting easements to allow construction of the pipeline “outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow” during the 13 months the agency said it needs to conduct a new review.
In response to the ruling, Energy Transfer said, “We are looking into all options available to use to keep this pipeline operating but, ultimately, we believe that Judge Boasberg exceeded his authority in this matter and that he does not have the jurisdiction to shut down the pipeline or stop the flow of crude oil.” “We believe that the [Corps] has the ultimate jurisdiction over this matter, pursuant to its regulations governing Corps property,” Energy Transfer said.
House Appropriations Bill Would Bar Administration SNAP Restrictions
The House bill appropriating funds for fiscal year 2021 for the Department of Agriculture contains a provision that would block the Trump Administration from implementing new restrictions on eligibility and benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Sanford Bishop (D-GA) said the bill “blocks two unconscionable SNAP rules designed to restrict program eligibility during a pandemic that has made it even harder for American families to put food on the table.” The first rule limits the ability of individuals to get waivers from SNAP work requirements. The second rule changes the way utility costs are used to determine SNAP benefits.
Forecasters Increase Hurricane Outlook
On July 7th, forecasters at Colorado State University increased their annual forecast to 20 named storms from their initial June outlook of 19— meaning 2020 could be the most active hurricane season since 2005, which had a record 28 named storms. Five tropical storms have already formed in the western Atlantic this year, with two reaching the United States mainland, the fastest start to a hurricane season since 1851. Forecasters said, “Conditions in the Atlantic look conducive for an active season with warm sea surface temperatures and relatively low shear.” Storms are named when their winds reach the tropical-storm strength of 39 miles per hour.
Specifically, the forecasters anticipate nine hurricanes, four of which will likely reach winds of 111 miles per hour or higher. An average hurricane season has 12 systems of tropical-storm strength or greater in the Atlantic, but warm water is building this year leading to the higher forecast. In 2019, there were 18 named storms in the Atlantic. The outlook also projects a 69% possibility of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. coast. Along the Gulf Coast the forecasters place the odds of a landfall between Brownsville, Texas and the Florida panhandle 44% higher than the 30% 20th century average.