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SIGMA Weekly Report
October 16, 2020
2020 Virtual Advocacy Week
Below please find SIGMA's Weekly Report for Friday, October 16, 2020. You may also view a printable version.
 

SIGMA NEEDS YOUR HELP! Please Be Sure to Register for the Virtual Annual Conference

  • Please be sure to register your company for the SIGMA 2020 Virtual Annual Conference November 9-13.
  • We have revamped the conference registration to reflect the transition to virtual and rates are now per company rather than per individual.  We made this change to the rate structure to allow more of your team to experience SIGMA. 
  • Virtual meeting rooms are available all week to facilitate live networking and meetings between SIGMA marketers, fuel suppliers, transport, financial services and fleet card members, and SIGMA partners. Once you register, you will be able to request meetings via the Virtual Conference platform once it goes live.  You may also register to host your own meeting room.
  • If you would like assistance in registering multiple members of your company, please contact SIGMA at sigma@sigma.org.
  • Register for the Virtual Annual Conference

 

EPA Issues Final Streamlining Rule

  • On October 15th, EPA issued a prepublication version of its final fuels streamlining rule to consolidate various fuel programs and eliminate redundant and expired provisions.
  • The final rule updates the existing gasoline, diesel, and related fuel regulations in 40 C.F.R. part 80.  According to the Agency, it is streamlining the regulations in order to facilitate compliance with fuel and environmental regulations while reducing compliance costs for regulated parties.  Most of the rule will go into effect January 1, 2021, except for some amendatory instructions that will become effective later.
  • SIGMA counsel is currently reviewing the streamlining rule.  Expect more information in the coming days.

 

Stimulus Talks Stall, Senate Plans Vote on Targeted Aid Package

  • Despite ongoing discussions between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), it appears increasingly unlikely that an agreement will be reached, and a bill passed by Congress prior to the November elections.
  • Speaking at a conference this week, Secretary Mnuchin said, “At this point, getting something done before the election and executing on that will be difficult.”
  • Even if the Trump Administration agreed to a deal with Speaker Pelosi and it passed the House, there is no guarantee that it would be supported by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) or the Senate Republican majority.
  • Relatedly, on October 13th, Majority Leader McConnell announced that the Senate will vote on a smaller, targeted aid package next week.

 

Rep. Davis Introduces Bill to Waive State and Local Share of Federally Funded Infrastructure Projects

  • Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) has introduced a bill that would allow the Secretary of Transportation to fund up to 100 percent of federally-funded highway projects in Fiscal Years (FY) 2021 and 2022, waiving the state and local share of these projects.
  • Specifically, in order to ensure continued state transportation project implementation, the “Highway Relief Act” would provide the Secretary of Transportation discretionary authority to increase the federal cost share for federal-aid highway projects to 100 percent, for FY21-22.
  • Representative Davis’ bill likely will not receive congressional consideration this year, but could serve as a marker as negotiations to reauthorize surface transportation programs begin next year.

 

Legislation Introduced to Create National Disaster Safety Board

  • Bipartisan legislation – introduced by Representatives Garrett Graves (R-LA) and Katie Porter (D-CA) in the House and Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in the Senate on October 14th – would create a National Disaster Safety Board.
  • According Representatives Graves and Porter, the goal of the bill is to protect infrastructure by establishing an independent board to examine the causes of natural disasters and help increase preparedness and infrastructure resilience.
  • The new National Disaster Safety Board (NDSB) would be modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as an independent, non-partisan agency to study disaster preparedness and emergency response.

 

Investigations of Fires Caused by EV Batteries Underway

  • According to documents posted on its website, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating vehicle fires in Chevrolet Volt electric vehicles (EVs) that appear to be caused by the vehicle batteries.
  • Additionally, Hyundai Motor Co. is reviewing whether to expand a recall of its Kona electric vehicle globally following multiple reports of battery fires.
  • BMW and Ford Motor Co. are investigating similar issues in other countries. Regulators and stakeholders are not clear on the precise reason behind the fires, but many have noted they could keep consumers from taking up EVs.   

 

FMCSA Extends State Emergency Declarations Due to West Coast Fires

  • On October 14, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Western Service Center announced that the state emergency declarations for Oregon and California should be extended.  
  • The Governors of the States of California and Oregon issued State declarations of emergency in August due to the fires in the states.
  • The declarations have been extended to November 19, 2020.

 

It’s Not Too Late to Send SIGMA Your Charitable Success Story!

  • 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!
  • Send your story and logo to sigma@sigma.org by October 15th. Questions? Contact Amy Rider at arider@sigma.org.

 

What Can You Donate to SIGMA’s Silent Auction?

  • SIGMA’s Fuel Foundation is looking for unique and creative items for our Silent Auction at SIGMA's Virtual Annual Conference!

Questions? Contact Ginny Griffin at ggriffin@sigma.org.

 

Federated Insurance Offering Free Webinar - “Cybercriminals are Going Phishing”

  • On Tuesday, October 20th, Federated Insurance is offering a free webinar on “Cybercriminals are Going Phishing.”
  • In this webinar, we will look at the tools and tricks these attackers are using to spread malware, steal credentials and infect organizations with ransomware. We will look at how we can defend against these attacks as well.
  • This webinar is FREE to SIGMA members, but you must register in advance.
  • Click HERE to Register
 
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SIGMA NEEDS YOUR HELP! Please Be Sure to Register for the Virtual Annual Conference

Please be sure to register your company for the SIGMA 2020 Virtual Annual Conference November 9-13. We have revamped the conference registration to reflect the transition to virtual and rates are now per company rather than per individual.  We made this change to the rate structure to allow more of your team to experience SIGMA. 

 

Virtual meeting rooms are available all week to facilitate live networking and meetings between SIGMA marketers, fuel suppliers, transport, financial services and fleet card members, and SIGMA partners. Once you register, you will be able to request meetings via the Virtual Conference platform once it goes live. You may also register to host your own meeting room.

 

We have increased the conference educational offerings to 50+ sessions to address all facets of your organization and are making them available on demand to allow for the unpredictable schedules we all face. 

 

We need your continued support and participation in our Virtual Annual Conference.  We are looking forward to seeing all of you in San Antonio, TX at our 2021 Spring Conference. 

 

If you would like assistance in registering multiple members of your company, please contact SIGMA at sigma@sigma.org.

 

Thank you for your continued support,

Ryan McNutt, CEO SIGMA

 

Register for the Virtual Annual Conference

 

EPA Issues Final Streamlining Rule

On October 15th, EPA issued a prepublication version of its final fuels streamlining rule to consolidate various fuel programs and eliminate redundant and expired provisions. The final rule updates the existing gasoline, diesel, and related fuel regulations in 40 C.F.R. part 80.  According to the Agency, it is streamlining the regulations in order to facilitate compliance with fuel and environmental regulations while reducing compliance costs for regulated parties.  Most of the rule will go into effect January 1, 2021, except for some amendatory instructions that will become effective later.

 

The final rule is similar to the proposed rule.  The Agency is making a wide array of adjustments to the existing regulations including, but not limited to:

  • Simplifying the Reformulated Gasoline (“RFG”) standards by translating the current summer RFG volatile organic compound (“VOC”) standard into a Reid Vapor Pressure (“RVP”) per-gallon cap of 7.4 psi;
  • Streamlining and consolidating the fuel quality programs (i.e., volatility, benzene, and sulfur, etc.) into a single, national fuel quality program with unified annual reporting; and
  • Updating and improving the third-party oversight programs, including consolidating the existing four in-use survey programs into a single national in-use fuel quality survey.
  • Reducing the minimum butane purity level for certified butane to 85%.

 

On June 29th, SIGMA submitted comments on EPA’s proposed rule. SIGMA commented that it was generally supportive of EPA’s proposal to streamline the existing fuel regulations as it would eliminate redundant and obsolete regulations. SIGMA stated that the proposed regulatory changes “will facilitate compliance with fuel and environmental regulations while simultaneously reducing regulated parties’ compliance costs, and potentially lowering the fuel costs for American consumers—a win for industry and consumers alike.” SIGMA urged the Agency to clarify that parties that add more oxygenate to a product should be exempt from the full set of requirements applicable to refineries, raise the exemption threshold above a mere 200,000 gallons, and extend the exemption to small blenders who supply E0 premium for marine applications. 

 

Taking into consideration SIGMA’s comments, the final rule provides that blenders that add more oxygenate than specified in a product transfer document will not incur deficits, will not need to submit additional reports, and will not need to arrange for an additional audit.  The exemption threshold for Downstream BOB Recertification has also been expanded from 200,000 gallons to 1 million gallons, which will protect small blenders from certain regulatory burdens.  For blenders who make E0, the final rule provides flexibility for them to avoid sulfur and benzene deficits and forgo the annual audit requirements. 

 

SIGMA counsel is currently reviewing the streamlining rule.  Expect more information in the coming days.

 

Stimulus Talks Stall, Senate Plans Vote on Targeted Aid Package

Despite ongoing discussions between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), it appears increasingly unlikely that an agreement will be reached, and a bill passed by Congress prior to the November elections. Speaking at a conference this week, Secretary Mnuchin said, “At this point, getting something done before the election and executing on that will be difficult.”

 

Even if the Trump Administration agreed to a deal with Speaker Pelosi and it passed the House, there is no guarantee that it would be supported by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) or the Senate Republican majority. While neither side has yet admitted defeat and maintain that an agreement is still possible, they reportedly remain far apart on worker safety, school funding, and a strategic testing plan, among other issues.

 

Relatedly, on October 13th, Majority Leader McConnell announced that the Senate will vote on a smaller, targeted aid package next week. That bill is expected to include more money for expanded unemployment insurance payments and funding for schools and hospitals, in addition to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding for small businesses. “When the full Senate returns on October 19th, our first order of business will be voting again on targeted relief for American workers, including new funding for the PPP. Unless Democrats block this aid for workers, we will have time to pass it before we proceed as planned to the pending Supreme Court nomination as soon as it is reported by the Judiciary Committee,” Senator McConnell said.

 

Speaking with reporters yesterday, Senator McConnell reiterated his opposition to prospect of a deal totaling between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion — the cost range of the plans being discussed by Democrats and the White House.

 

“I don’t think so. That’s where the Administration is willing to go. My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go," Senator McConnell said. Senator McConnell estimates that his targeted proposal would cost approximately $500 billion.

 

Senator McConnell’s remarks came after President Trump said he was willing to go higher than $1.8 trillion in negotiations with Democrats on the stimulus deal. “Absolutely, I would. I would pay more. I would go higher. Go big or go home, I said it yesterday. Go big or go home,” President Trump said during a phone interview on Fox Business Thursday morning.

 

Rep. Davis Introduces Bill to Waive State and Local Share of Federally Funded Infrastructure Projects

Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) has introduced a bill that would allow the Secretary of Transportation to fund up to 100 percent of federally-funded highway projects in Fiscal Years (FY) 2021 and 2022, waiving the state and local share of these projects.

 

Specifically, in order to ensure continued state transportation project implementation, the “Highway Relief Act” would provide the Secretary of Transportation discretionary authority to increase the federal cost share for federal-aid highway projects to 100 percent, for FY21-22. According to Representative Davis, this authority will assist states in continuing their transportation programming, while preserving and increasing jobs.

 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put great financial strain on state government budgets, including state departments of transportation,” Representative Davis said. “My legislation will protect and create new construction jobs and provide a much-needed cash infusion to ensure state highway projects continue as planned. This is just one of many ways the federal government can assist state DOTs. I’d like to thank Congressional leaders for including a one-year extension of surface transportation reauthorization in the CR, but as we negotiate and debate another comprehensive COVID-19 relief package, we must absolutely include additional relief for state DOTs so we can continue to make investments in our nation’s infrastructure.”

 

Representative Davis’ bill likely will not receive congressional consideration this year, , but could serve as a marker as negotiations to reauthorize surface transportation programs begin next year.

 

Legislation Introduced to Create National Disaster Safety Board

Bipartisan legislation – introduced by Representatives Garrett Graves (R-LA) and Katie Porter (D-CA) in the House and Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in the Senate on October 14th – would create a National Disaster Safety Board. According Representatives Graves and Porter, the goal of the bill is to protect infrastructure by establishing an independent board to examine the causes of natural disasters and help increase preparedness and infrastructure resilience. The new National Disaster Safety Board (NDSB) would be modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as an independent, non-partisan agency to study disaster preparedness and emergency response.

 

“The National Transportation Safety Board has saved countless lives by carefully examining the causes of transportation accidents and identifying life-saving safety improvements to airplanes, trains, pipelines, and vessels. There is no question that we continue to repeat the same two mistakes when it comes to natural disasters — preparation and response. As a result, thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars have needlessly been lost,” Representative Graves said in a statement announcing the bill.

 

Specifically, the NDSB would be responsible for studying preparedness and emergency response during natural disasters. According to Representative Graves, by breaking down “the silos between federal, state, and local government, and private industry” the agency would to develop better and more complete lessons learned and improve planning for future emergencies.

 

Investigations of Fires Caused by EV Batteries Underway

According to documents posted on its website, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating vehicle fires in Chevrolet Volt electric vehicles (EVs) that appear to be caused by the vehicle batteries. The investigation covers nearly 78,000 Bolts made by General Motors from the 2017 through 2020 model years and could lead to a vehicle recall.

 

Additionally, Hyundai Motor Co. is reviewing whether to expand a recall of its Kona electric vehicle globally following multiple reports of battery fires. On October 12th, Hyundai said in statement that it is in the final stages of filing a recall notice with NHTSA and is considering expanding the voluntary recall worldwide. The affected vehicles were produced between September 2017 and March 2020, Hyundai said.

 

BMW and Ford Motor Co. are investigating similar issues in other countries. Regulators and stakeholders are not clear on the precise reason behind the fires, but many have noted they could keep consumers from taking up EVs.   

 

FMCSA Extends State Emergency Declarations Due to West Coast Fires

On October 14, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Western Service Center announced that the state emergency declarations for Oregon and California should be extended.  The Governors of the States of California and Oregon issued State declarations of emergency in August due to the fires in the states. The declarations have been extended to November 19, 2020.

 

It’s Not Too Late to Send SIGMA Your Charitable Success Story!

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 sigma@sigma.org by October 15th. Questions? Contact Amy Rider at arider@sigma.org.

 

Will You Donate an Item for SIGMA’s Silent Auction?

SIGMA’s Fuel Foundation is looking for unique and creative items for our Silent Auction at SIGMA's Virtual Annual Conference!

 

Examples Include:            

  • Unique outing - wine tasting, golf trip, brewery tours, sailing, hunting, sporting event, spa day
  • Vacation - home, condo, resort
  • One of a kind Items - designer clothes, jewelry, signed memorabilia
  • Experience - Backstage pass, concert tickets, museum tickets

 

Why You Should Donate:

  • Your item will have great visibility during the virtual conference
  • You will be helping The Fuel Foundation Scholarship Programs
  • Your donation is tax deductible

 

Questions? Contact Ginny Griffin at ggriffin@sigma.org.

 

Federated Insurance Offering Free Webinar - “Cybercriminals are Going Phishing”

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

1:00 PM CDT/2:00 PM ET

 

Cybercriminals love a good tragedy, natural or otherwise, as a tool to scam people around the world. With the COVID-19 pandemic in play, attackers have increased the attacks through email phishing as they rely on heightened emotions and fear in their scams. The psychology used in these attacks to bypass critical thinking is becoming more and more advanced. By leveraging techniques like focus redirection and exploiting the way our brain filters can be tricked into perceiving a different reality, attackers are outpacing our best efforts to defend ourselves. We do know that throwing money at a problem doesn’t make it go away. Social engineering methods and the cyber criminals behind the attacks are furiously innovating, keeping IT professionals off-guard.

 
 

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