Have You Registered for the SIGMA Annual Conference in Scottsdale?
Have you registered for the SIGMA Annual Conference at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, AZ on November 2-4? Don’t wait, register TODAY!
Thanks to the generosity of Sinclair Oil Corporation, SIGMA is pleased to announce that a SIGMA Open Scramble golf tournament has been added to the schedule. The tournament will be on the morning of November 2nd, so you will need to come in early to participate. There are limited slots, so don’t procrastinate! (Note: You must be registered for the conference to register to play.]
Click Here for Full Conference Information and to Register
Senators Introduce Bill to Repeal RFS Ethanol Mandate
On July 20th, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the “Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act,” legislation that would end the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. Currently, the mandate requires annual increases in the amount of renewable fuel that must be blended into the total volume of gasoline refined and consumed in the United States. According to the Senators, the bill would help reduce carbon emissions from transportation fuels by removing the volume requirements for corn ethanol while leaving in place the volume obligations for advanced and cellulosic biofuels and biodiesel.
In a statement introducing the bill, Senator Feinstein said, “The federal corn ethanol mandate no longer makes sense when better, lower-carbon alternatives exist. Corn ethanol achieves little to no reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s time to end the mandate and instead support more advanced biofuels and biodiesel that won’t contribute to climate change or drive up the cost of food.”
Sources: Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein, BGov
Administration May Miss July Deadline for Issuing 2021 and 2022 RFS RVOs
EPA reportedly may miss the Administration’s stated July deadline for issuing the 2021 and 2022 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program over ongoing competing pressures from biofuel and farm groups and refiners. The 2021 RVOs, which were delayed by the need to evaluate the economic effects of the COVID- 19 pandemic on energy markets, are already 6 months past the November statutory deadline. Recent court rulings regarding the RFS program, including one issued on July 16th, have also complicated the situation.
In the July 16th ruling, the court ruled against both biofuel producers who contended that the 2019 RVOs were too low and refiners who argued they were too high. The court agreed, however, with environmental groups who argued the rule could threaten endangered species and cause severe environmental harm. Because EPA failed to consult the Fish and Wildlife Service on whether the rule posed any threat to endangered species, the court found EPA’s assertion that there would be no threat “arbitrary and capricious.” The could also found EPA’s assertion that the rule would not cause severe environmental harm by increasing corn and soybean production because it was based on the same “faulty analysis.” The court remanded the relevant portions of the 2019 rule back to EPA without vacating them for reconsideration, leaving the rest of the 2019 rule in place.
In previous years, EPA has issued its annual RFS RVO rules for the following year in the summer, following a review by the Office of Management and Budget. Many had anticipated, based on the Administration’s statements that the 2021 and 2022 rules would be released in July, that they would be sent to OMB in June, which did not occur.
Sources: Reuters, Politico
Test Infrastructure Vote Fails in Senate, Negotiations Continue
On July 22nd, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer’s (D-NY) vote on whether to proceed to debate on the bipartisan Senate infrastructure package failed to gain the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster, and so failed. Although the vote failed, Senate negotiators expressed optimism that they will have the votes to proceed to debate once the final text of the agreement is released, which is expected to be early next week. In this regard, following the vote, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), a lead negotiator, organized a letter signed by 11 Republican Senators to Majority Leader Schumer indicating Republicans will produce the votes to overcome a filibuster next week. Senator Portman and lead Senate negotiator Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) also released a statement following the vote that a group 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans are “optimistic that we will finalize, and be prepared to advance, this historic bipartisan proposal.”
Negotiations are on the Senate package are continuing over the weekend and gained momentum after an agreement was reached to pay for it in part by delaying an expensive Medicare rule promulgated under the Trump Administration that would eliminate the rebates drug companies give to benefit managers under Medicare Part D that was designed to reduce the out-of-pocket costs of prescription drugs for patients outside the Medicare program.
In remarks on the Senate floor on Thursday, Majority Leader Schumer again reiterated that he is prepared to keep the Senate in session beyond its planned August 9th recess if necessary to finish work on both the infrastructure package and the separate “human infrastructure” budget bill that contains much of President Biden’s economic agenda. Notably, Senator Schumer will have to have the support of all 50 Senate Democrats in order for the infrastructure package to pass, including from Senate progressives who will likely condition their votes on what is included in the second budget bill.
Sources: BGov, Politico
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Introduces Bill to Overhaul Pass-Through Deduction
On July 20th, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced legislation to overhaul the pass-through deduction, which was a significant piece of the 2017 Republican tax reform bill.
The legislation would expand the eligibility to businesses that are not currently eligible for the deduction, but it also would cap eligibility by income. Individuals making $400,000 or less in qualified business income would not be affected. Under the proposal, the deduction would be gradually phased-out for those making more than $400,000 from a business where the income passes directly to the owner(s). The deduction would be fully phased-out at $500,000.
Chairman Wyden has estimated that the change would raise “tens of billions” for the federal government over the next 10 years. The Biden Administration has expressed openness to the change, and it is possible that it could be incorporated into infrastructure legislation as the Senate continues to look for additional revenue sources.
Sources: BGov, Office of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Western States Issue Emergency Orders to Alleviate Fuel Shortages
The governors of South Dakota and Wyoming have issued executive orders in response to low inventories and outages of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and ethyl alcohol.
On July 17th, South Dakota Governor issued an executive order waiving federal motor carrier safety regulations to facilitate the transportation and delivery of petroleum products into and within South Dakota. The order extends through August 16th.
On July 20th, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon issued an executive order establishing temporary emergency rules for the Wyoming Department of Transportation allowing drivers to make extra fuel deliveries. The order is effective July 20 through August 20.
For a full listing of waivers, including those recently issued by western states in response to wildfires, visit the waiver page on the SIGMA website.
Sources: Office of Governor Kristi Noem, Office of Governor Mark Gordon, U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Euler Hermes Offering Free Webinar: Adapt & Transform: Seize the Economic Upswing
July 27th,2021|Online, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT
Economic insights + transformation tips in one webinar. Join Euler Hermes at 2 p.m. EDT.
Adapting to the new economic landscape is critical in what promises to be a new age of business evolution. Every major disruptive event causes a radical transformation in innovation. While COVID-19 created an economic crisis, many regions, and sectors are on the road to recovery. Is your business ready to transform again and take advantage of new opportunities?
During this webinar, our North American Chief Economist Dan North, will provide the latest economic data you need to know, and then Aaron Lindstrom, our Regional Head of Transformation and Digital Partnerships, will talk about how businesses can focus their transformation efforts to maximize growth.
Can't make the live event? No problem. Register to make sure you still get the recording and slides when they're ready.
Click Here to Register for the Webinar