Register Today for SIGMA’s Virtual 2021 SIGMA ELC Gallup Leadership Workshop!
Join SIGMA for our 2021 Executive Leadership Conference Virtual Gallup Leadership Workshop! This workshop is suited for all levels of your executive team and builds on the Gallup StrengthsFinder workshop SIGMA held in 2019, however previous participation is not required to participate and benefit. If you participated in 2019 you will be able to access your results to use them for this year’s workshop – there’s no need to retake the assessment!
The Gallup Leadership Workshop on Shaping Your Leadership and What Your Followers Need will be held virtually on February 2nd and 3rd. Discounted rates are available for additional members from the same company, so take advantage of the conference going virtual and register your entire team!
Click Here for More Information on the Gallup Leadership Workshop and to Register
Join Us for the 2021 SIGMA Spring Conference – In Person and New Dates!
Our Spring Conference at the JW Marriott Hill Country in San Antonio, Texas is now moving from April 6-8 to May 11-13, 2021. At this time, we plan to hold the conference in person and hope that vaccine availability will make it possible for all to attend.
If you have already registered for the conference, SIGMA will transfer your registration to the new dates.
What About My Hotel Reservation?
The hotel will release your current reservation. Once the hotel sets up the new May 2021 SIGMA block of rooms you will be sent a new link to make a new hotel reservation.
Need to Register?
If you have not yet registered for the Spring Conference, please click on the link below to do so. You will be sent a unique link to reserve your room once the new May 2021 hotel block is set up.
Playing Golf? You Need to Come in Early
The SIGMA Open Scramble will now be held at 7:30 AM on Tuesday, May 11th, so if you plan to play you will want to make your travel arrangements accordingly and arrive the day before.
Click Here to Register for the Spring Conference
Click Here for More Information on the Spring Conference
Biden Acts to Overturn Trump Deregulatory Agenda, Revokes Keystone XL Permit
On January 20th, hours after being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, President Biden signed an executive order designed to overturn the Trump Administration’s deregulatory environmental agenda. The order identifies several recent EPA regulations that will be targeted for reconsideration by the Biden EPA including rules that:
- regulate methane emissions from new oil and gas sources;
- rolled back tailpipe carbon dioxide emission limits and revoked California’s Clean Air Act waiver;
- required future rulemakings to consider only publicly available scientific data;
- adjusted Clean Air Act cost-benefit analyses; and
- found that mercury limits on power plants were not “appropriate and necessary.”
Additionally, the order requires EPA to propose a companion methane regulation for existing sources by September 2021 and issue federal guidelines to reduce ozone precursor emissions from the oil and gas industry in Texas, Pennsylvania, California, New York, and Connecticut by January 2022. A separate executive order directs the Office of Management and Budget to improve its regulatory review process—an action urged by progressive Democrats who believe the current process favors industry interests over the environment.
Fulfilling campaign promises, President Biden also signed executive orders directing the United States to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and revoking TransCanada’s presidential permit allowing it to construct the Keystone XL pipeline.
Trump EPA Issues Last Minute RFS Proposals
In the days before President Trump left office, EPA issued several proposals to change the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) program.
EPA on January 19th proposed changes to fuel dispenser labels for E15 and suggests modifications to the underground storage tank (UST) regulations for the storage of E15 and higher gasoline-ethanol blends at retail stations’ tank systems. SIGMA counsel Steptoe & Johnson has prepared a memorandum on the proposed rule and its potential impact to SIGMA members (Please note you must be logged in to review). Comments on the proposed rule are due on April 19, 2021.
In addition, EPA proposed to:
SIGMA is in the process of evaluating these proposals and the impact they may have on SIGMA members.
Court Stays Trump Administration RFS SREs
On January 21st, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency request submitted by the Renewable Fuels Association and temporarily stayed three Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) small refinery exemptions (SREs) that had been granted by the Trump Administration on January 19th. The order gives EPA until February 3rd to explain why the exemption petitions were granted.
As previously reported by SIGMA, last week the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) agreed to hear the appeal by HollyFrontier and Wynnewood Refining to the decision by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that held that EPA wrongly granted some exemptions and only refineries that have been granted continuous, uninterrupted SREs to RFS blending requirements since the inception of the program are eligible for the exemptions. In their appeal, the refiners argue that the Tenth Circuit Court ruling wrongly deprived small refineries of economic relief specifically authorized by Congress.
The Clean Air Act authorizes EPA to grant SREs if small refiners face “economic hardship” in complying with RFS blending mandates. During the Trump Administration, the number of exemptions granted grew significantly, prompting biofuels groups to challenge the decisions in court. If the Tenth Circuit decision is upheld, only a small number of refineries would be eligible for SREs. The refiners assert that if that occurs, many small refineries would be a risk of closing—noting that some facilities have already ceased petroleum refining operations.
It is widely anticipated that under the new Biden Administration EPA will grant significantly fewer SREs than were granted by President Trump’s EPA and EPA may choose not to defend its earlier action, allowing the court’s order staying the three SREs to stand pending review by the Supreme Court.
FDA Issues Warning Letters Regarding Tobacco Products that Did Not Meet PMTA Deadline
On January 15th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to 10 companies that manufacture and operate websites selling electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products advising them that selling their products, which do not have premarket authorization, is illegal and the products, therefore, may not be sold or distributed in the United States. The warning letters were sent to companies that did not submit a premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) to the agency by the September 9, 2020 deadline.
Applications for premarket review for certain deemed new tobacco products on the market as of August 8, 2016, including ENDS products, were required to be submitted to FDA by September 9th, per court order. FDA has said for companies who met the September 9th deadline it “generally intends to continue to defer enforcement for up to one year pending FDA review unless there is a negative action taken by the FDA on the application.” The FDA has also said it plans to post a list of products for which the Agency has received applications, although to date it has not done so, making it difficult for retailers to know which products they are legally able to sell.
The 10 firms that received warning letters are Little House Vapes LLC; Castle Rock Vapor LLC; Dropsmoke Inc.; Perfection Vapes Inc.; CLS Trading LLC d/b/a Vape Dudes HQ; Session Supply Co.; Coastal E-Liquid Laboratory/GC Vapors LLC; Dr. Crimmy LLC d/b/a Dr. Crimmy’s V-Liquid; CMM Capital LLC d/b/a ETX Vape; and E-Cig Barn LLC.
Appeals Court Rules Wire Act Does Not Apply to Online Lotteries
On January 20th, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission finding that the Wire Act’s prohibitions are limited to interstate wire communications related to bets or wagers on sporting events or contests and do not apply to online lotteries.
In 2011, Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued an opinion concluding that the Wire Act's prohibitions were uniformly limited to sports gambling. In 2018 under the Trump Administration, the OLC issued an opinion, which was later adopted by the Department, that all prohibitions in the Wire Act applied to all forms of bets or wagers, including online lotteries — reversing the 2011 opinion and returning to the traditional interpretation of the Wire Act.
The New Hampshire Lottery Commission challenged the second opinion. The appeals court’s ruling upholds the district court’s finding in favor of the Lottery Commission. The Biden Administration’s Department of Justice will now have to decide whether to seek a review of the appeals court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. Given that the 2011 opinion concluding that the Wire Act does not apply to internet lotteries was issued by the Obama Administration, it is unclear if under the Biden Administration the Department of Justice will request that review.
Commerce Holds Confirmation Hearing, Buttigieg Clarifies Position on Federal Gas Tax
On January 21st, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a confirmation hearing for Pete Buttigieg to assume the role of Secretary of the Department of Transportation. Buttigieg appeared to be well-received by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle—Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Todd Young (R-IN) both praised his performance and indicated a desire to work with him.
During the hearing, Buttigieg indicated that “all options” for funding infrastructure are on the table including raising the federal gas tax. “In the near team, we need a solution that can provide some predictability and sustainability. In the long term, we need to bear in mind also that as vehicles become more efficient, and as we pursue electrification, sooner or later there will be questions about whether the gas tax can be effective at all.”
Following the hearing, however, Buttigieg’s spokesperson backtracked his statement, explaining that a "variety of options need to be on the table to ensure we can invest in our highways and create jobs, but increasing the gas tax is not among them.”
SIGMA’s Fuel Foundation Pay It Forward Scholarship Application is Now OPEN!
SIGMA’s 2021 Fuel Foundation Pay It Forward Scholarship application is now open. In 2021, the Fuel Foundation will award 8 scholarships totaling $25,000.
Who is Eligible?
• SIGMA Members’ adult or student employees, spouses, children, grandchildren and dependents of current employees.
• High School Seniors who have been accepted to college or trade school for Fall of 2020 with a minimum GPA of 2.5
• Students currently enrolled in a Trade School, Undergraduate, Graduate, and PhD program with a cumulative 2.5 College GPA AND a minimum of one full time quarter/semester completed.
• Individuals who have completed significant volunteer work in your community or school such as public service, community outreach, coaching, event volunteering, etc. (Supporting documentation required).
Click Here for More Information and to Apply