SIGMA Virtual Annual Conference Content Available On-Demand, Register Now to Access!
If you didn’t have a chance to register for the Virtual Annual Conference or your schedule didn’t allow you to view all of the education sessions you wanted to see, don’t worry. The conference portal will remain open until the Spring Conference and you are able to log in and view the on-demand content when it is convenient for you—another reason why it is not too late to register if you haven’t already done so.
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EPA to Hold Fuels Regulatory Streamlining Rule Virtual Workshop
Date: Wednesday – Thursday, December 9 – 10, 2020
Pre-register by December 2, 2020
EPA has announced it will convene a virtual workshop on the Fuels Regulatory Streamlining Rule on December 9-10, 2020, ahead of its implementation date of January 1, 2021. On October 15th, EPA signed its final rule updating and streamlining existing gasoline, diesel, and other fuel quality programs. The final rule consolidates what are currently fully implemented but separate programs, all of which affect the same regulated parties, into one national fuel quality program. SIGMA counsel has prepared a memorandum on the final rule that is available to SIGMA members. [Note: Members must be logged in to view the memorandum.]
The virtual workshop will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to ask about the regulatory requirements of the final rule and a broad range of topics will be covered regarding implementation and how the final rule relates to previous regulations.
Additional information on the event is posted at https://www.epa.gov/diesel-fuel-standards/fuels-regulatory-streamlining. All attendees must preregister for the workshop by notifying Nick Parsons by December 2, 2020 (Email – ASD-Registration@epa.gov or Telephone – (734) 214–4479).
Biofuel Groups Ask Court to Enforce RFS Remand
On November 23rd, a coalition of biofuel and farm groups filed a motion asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to compel EPA to comply with the court’s mandate that the agency add an additional 500 million gallons of biofuel blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
In 2016, the Court “vacate[ed] EPA’s decision to reduce the total renewable fuel volume requirements for 2016 through use of its ‘inadequate domestic supply’ waiver authority, and remand[ed] the rule to EPA for further consideration in light of [its] decision.” EPA has to date failed to take any further action.
"The Court should order EPA to issue a 500-million-gallon curative obligation with an effective date of no more than six months after the Court’s order and with a compliance-demonstration deadline no more than three months after that effective date," the groups said. "The Court should also declare that it will not extend these deadlines." The groups asked that the additional gallons be included as an addition to the normal blending requirement—potentially resulting in a 15.5 billion-gallon biofuel blending requirement in a future year.
EPA has not yet proposed its RFS blending requirements for 2021 and therefore will almost certainly miss the November 30th deadline to issue a final rule—as it has many times in recent years.
SIGMA Sends Letter on COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Priority for Essential Workers
On November 23rd, SIGMA joined a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar requesting that the agency follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance in developing a plan for distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. SIGMA urged the agency to prioritize distribution to essential workers in critical infrastructure businesses in the second phase of vaccine distribution preceded only by healthcare professionals.
SIGMA notes in the letter that the fuel and convenience store industry will be necessary to the smooth distribution of vaccines by providing the fuels distribution trucks need to run and food and convenience items to their drivers. The letter further notes that the industry has the most convenient locations for quick shopping trips for all consumers, and also has the most extended hours—uniquely positioning it to serve the needs of first responders.
SIGMA was joined in sending the letter by NACS, NATSO, and the Energy Marketers of America (formerly PMAA).
SIGMA Joins Amicus Brief in Climate Suit
On November 23rd, SIGMA joined an amicus brief in the climate suit BP P.L.C et a.l v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore. In the brief, respondents argue that “The case is part of a second wave of highly-coordinated lawsuits born out of political frustration that Congress and administrations have not adopted specific policies to address climate change. This particular lawsuit seeks to use state tort law to regulate the national production and sale of energy products that have been essential to modern life since the industrial revolution.”
An array of essentially identical lawsuits has been filed in multiple local jurisdictions in an attempt to overturn an earlier court decision that found that climate policy should not be determined by the courts. This complaint asserts that “the promotion and sale of oil, gas or other carbon energy is a public nuisance under state common law or violates another state tort or statute” and seeks to draw state courts into establishing national public policy affecting carbon emissions, effectively using litigation to “create national, parallel regulatory structures on the sale and use of fossil fuels.”
In the brief, SIGMA requested that the Court to reverse the judgment that the case be heard at the local level arguing that “trying to turn the production, sale, promotion and use of certain fuels into liability-inducing events undermines the careful balancing of interests that must be done in the political branches when setting national energy policy. These public policy decisions are based on a multitude of factors including energy independence, stability of the electric grid, and affordability for families and businesses, in addition to climate impacts.” “Such decisions should not be driven by individual judges in individual courtrooms in individual states, but by Congress and federal agencies which can effectively balance the complex public policy matters at stake,” the brief asserts.
SIGMA was joined in filing the brief by the National Association of Manufacturers, NACS, and the Energy Marketers of America (formerly PMAA).
Biden Taps Kerry for Climate Envoy
On November 23rd, President-Elect Joe Biden announced that he plans to name former Secretary of State John Kerry as “Climate Envoy” in his upcoming Administration, a role which is anticipated to encompass coordination of multiple federal agencies while leading White House efforts to address climate change—likely with little congressional support.
According to a Biden transition team statement, the Climate Envoy position will be embedded on the National Security Council (NSC), an indication of the high priority the future Biden Administration will give climate change. “This marks the first time that the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change, reflecting the president-elect’s commitment to addressing climate change as an urgent national security issue,” the Biden transition team said in a statement. His role will not require Senate confirmation.
As Secretary of State under the Obama Administration, Kerry was instrumental in developing the Paris Climate Accord—from which the United States withdrew under President Trump and President-elect Biden has pledged to rejoin on “Day One” of his presidency.
FDA Responds to SIGMA Letter on Public PMTA List, Promises Action but No Date
On November 20th, Mitchell Zeller, Director of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), responded to SIGMA’s September 8th letter in which SIGMA thanked the agency for its promise to publish a publicly available list of products for which a Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) has been submitted and relaying SIGMA’s expectation that CTP will continue to exercise enforcement discretion against retailers selling ENDS products until the PMTA List is published. “Without the PMTA List, retailers will have no centralized and credible way of determining which ENDS products are being marketed in compliance with CTP policy,” SIGMA said.
In his response, Director Zeller noted that FDA “may continue to defer enforcement of the premarket requirements for up to one year through September 9, 2021 (unless a negative action is issued by FDA on an application during that time). Examples of negative actions include Refusal to Accept (RTA), Refusal to File (RTF), and a No Marketing Order (NMO).”
“FDA expects that manufacturers will have an incentive to make retailers and distributors aware of which products are the subject of applications, which will enable retailers and distributors to know whether a marketing application has been submitted and whether FDA has acted on an application. In addition, retailers and distributers may contact suppliers for relevant product information,” Mr. Zeller stated.
In his response, Mr. Zeller further affirmed that “CTP plans to make publicly available a list comprised of deemed new tobacco products that were on the market as of August 8, 2016 (the effective date of the deeming rule), are currently marketed, and are the subject of an application submitted by September 9, 2020,” although he failed to provide a date by which that action will occur.
GM to Withdraw from Legal Challenge to California Vehicle Emissions Standards
On November 23rd, General Motors announced that it is withdrawing from the legal challenge to California’s right to set more stringent vehicle emission standards than federal standards. In a letter to the environmental groups who challenged EPA’s revocation of California’s waiver allowing it to exceed federal standards, GM CEO Mary Barra said her company would stop supporting the Trump Administration in the suit and would work with the incoming Biden Administration and California to set national emission rules.
Ms. Barra wrote that President-elect Biden's "Build Back Better" plan to install 550,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations is in concert with GM’s plans to expand EV manufacturing. "Given this shared enthusiasm and the President-elect’s call to bring the country back together, we believe there is now a path to achieve agreement on a national standard and complementary policies to accelerate the electrification of the light-duty transportation sector," she said. "To better foster the necessary dialogue, we are immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us."
Following the Trump Administration’s announcement that it would revoke California's vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards and replace the federal standards with less stringent ones, GM, Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota joined the federal government in fighting a lawsuit by environmental groups. Ford, Honda, BMW, Volkswagen, and Volvo supported California, signing an agreement this summer to continue reducing emissions on roughly the same timeline established by the Obama Administration rules.
After the GM announcement, Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) called for other automakers to stop supporting the Trump Administration and use California's agreement with the five automakers as a template for a national standard. "General Motors did the right thing today by removing their name from this misguided lawsuit," she said in a statement. "It's time for other automakers to do the same."
PROS Webinar: Speed and Agility in Times of Change in the Energy Industry – Featuring Ryan McNutt
December 8th | 11:00 AM-12:00 PM CST
This webinar is free, but you must register in advance to participate.
2020 has been a year of tumultuous change. From navigating through tariffs, overproduction, COVID, natural disasters, fluctuating oil prices, the shift to digital, customers becoming more sophisticated, and now cost and headcount reductions, energy companies have realized they need to be more agile and react to change more efficiently.
The only certainty is continued change with ongoing volatility in supply, demand, and political turmoil throughout the world. Marketers can let algorithms take over the simple repeatable tasks and focus on areas where human intelligence is needed most.
During this session, Ross Winegar and Ryan McNutt will deep dive into the lessons learned in 2020 and discuss today’s opportunities in oil and gas, joined by Ron Batey to share what CHS has done, and plans to do for wholesale fuels to improve speed and agility in order to improve performance, uplift profits and fuel growth.
Register for the Webinar