Senate Commerce Committee Approves Infrastructure Bill
On July 16th, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved its infrastructure bill (S. 2016) by a vote of 25-3. The five-year, $78 billion rail and safety title will eventually become part of the overall Senate surface transportation bill, which will include titles from four Senate committees.
Ahead of the Committee markup of the legislation, SIGMA and a coalition of stakeholders sent a letter to the Committee urging it to include Senator Todd Young’s (R-IN) DRIVE Safe Act amendment that would allow 18-year-olds to operate commercial trucks across state lines under an apprenticeship program. During its markup of the legislation, the Committee adopted a modified version of Senator Young’s amendment that establishes a 3-year pilot program of the DRIVE Safe Act’s provisions.
Of interest to SIGMA members, the bill includes language to establish an Electric Vehicle Working Group to “make recommendations regarding the development, adoption, and integration of light-, medium-, and heavy-duty electric vehicles into the transportation and energy systems of the United States.” The working group’s 25 members would be comprised of a mix of federal and industry stakeholders, including a representative from “the transportation fueling industry” and “an owner, operator, or manufacturer of electric vehicle charging equipment,” as well as representatives from automakers, battery manufacturers, the public utility industry, and others.
Under the legislation, the Working Group would be required to report to Congress on a “description of the barriers and opportunities to scaling up electric vehicle adoption in the United States.” The report would also be required to include recommendations on issues relating to consumer behavior, charging infrastructure needs (including cybersecurity and standardization), the adoption of EVs for low- and moderate- income and underserved communities (including charging infrastructure access and vehicle purchase financing), business models for charging personal vehicles outside the home (including wired and wireless charging), and the process by which the government could collect a user fee for the contribution of electric vehicles to funding roadway improvements, among other provisions.
Last month, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved its title of the Senate surface transportation authorization bill. The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over funding the legislation, have yet to introduce their titles.
Sources: Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Politico, BGov
Administration Reportedly Considering RFS Refiner Relief, Farm-State Democrats Object
The Biden Administration is reportedly considering options to provide relief to refiners from Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) as it prepares to issue its 2020 and 2021 RFS proposed rule. As previously reported by SIGMA, refiners have asked EPA for additional time to satisfy last year’s RVOs and to ensure that the 2021 requirements reflect the decreased fuel demand resulting from the pandemic.
Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Tom Carper (D-DE) have reportedly met to discuss relief options with EPA Administrator Michael Regan several times in recent weeks. The options discussed reportedly included a nationwide general waiver exempting the refining industry from some blending obligations, lowering 2020 and 2021 RVOs, creating a price cap on RINs, and issuing an emergency declaration.
Responding to the reports, on June 16th Congressional Democrats led by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL) urged the Administration to “swiftly issue a proposed rule for the 2021 and 2022 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) with strong blending targets and respond to the 2017 Court remand in Americans for Clean Energy, et al., v. Environmental Protection Agency to reinstate 500 million gallons of blending requirements inappropriately waived from the 2016 blending targets.”
The letter further states, “The proposals identified in media reports as options under consideration by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have one thing in common: they all unjustifiably waive Clean Air Act compliance requirements for a small group of refiners that the EPA has repeatedly determined
are not negatively impacted by the RFS. If adopted, greenhouse gas emissions will increase, our reliance on oil will increase, consumers will pay more at the pump, and the U.S. economy will be harmed.”
Sources: BGov, Reuters, Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar
USDA Announces Additional Aid for Biofuel Producers
On June 15th the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced additional aid to agricultural producers and businesses, including $700 million for biofuel producers. The additional funding is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative that the agency announced in March to “address a number of gaps and disparities in previous rounds of [federal COVID-19 relief] aid.” USDA said it plans to begin implementation of the additional aid within 60 days.
Such assistance has been a priority for biofuels groups as ethanol producers recover from pandemic-related market losses and face high feedstock prices. USDA has not yet stated how the funds will be distributed and some stakeholders have voiced concern that a disproportionate amount of the new funding not go to large conglomerates at the expense of farmer-owned and smaller ethanol producers.
Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Politico
TCI Releases Final Model Rule
On June 10th, the Transportation Climate Initiative Program (TCI) released a final model rule, along with a package of new materials on which it wishes to receive public input. In May, SIGMA filed comments on the TCI draft model rule, which was released in March, detailing concerns with the draft rule and encouraging policymakers to work cooperatively with the retail fuels industry so that the final model rule would be more consumer-focused and would achieve higher environmental benefits.
In addition to the final model rule, TCI released a Draft Framework for Public Engagement, a Draft Model Plan, which provides a common framework for jurisdictions to follow in developing their own Implementation Plans, and a Draft Regional Collaboration Strategy. Comments on these new materials are due August 13th.
In its May comments on the draft model rule, SIGMA stated that TCI misunderstood how fuel markets work, and therefore, the effectiveness of the rule as drafted would be limited. SIGMA further commented that the draft rule would disproportionately harm low-income communities and that the unintended consequences of the draft model rule would jeopardize the economic recovery of low-income Americans from the COVID-19 pandemic. TCI did not address these concerns in its final model rule.
The TCI Program was formed by Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia to coordinate their efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change. Other Northeastern states have participated in the program’s policy development but have not yet committed to its implementation. Of note, on June 9th, the Connecticut legislature concluded its session without approving legislation authorizing the state to join TCI—although a special session may be called during which that legislation could still be advanced.
TCI calls for the participating jurisdictions to enact a cap-and-invest program covering the movement and sales of motor fuels in their areas. SIGMA has serious concerns with the proposed TCI framework, which it has raised in a series of comments and letters. Specifically, SIGMA believes the program would not improve the climate due to significant implementation challenges and resulting widespread evasion of its requirements. SIGMA believes TCI is not a practical solution to climate concerns and that its implementation would be economically harmful to the motor fuels market and consumers that depend on it.
Sources: Transportation Climate Initiative Program, NATSO
House Narrowly Approves Corporate Governance Legislation
On June 16th, the House passed legislation by a vote of 215-214 that would require publicly traded companies to disclose to the SEC their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards, political spending, employee pay increases, climate change risks, and taxes paid in foreign countries. The bill, which is a package of five previously standalone bills, will now be sent to the Senate where it is unlikely to advance given the 50-50 tied majority.
Republican opponents of the legislation believe it could serve as a disincentive to provide consumers with additional investment opportunities and contend the SEC could lack jurisdiction over the issues. Democrats believe the additional transparency the bill would provide would benefit investors by allowing them to make better informed decisions.
Sources: BGov, Politico
Reminder – SIGMA’s Carl Boyett Industry Scholarship Deadline is June 28th!
SIGMA’s Fuel Foundation Carl Boyett Industry Scholarship deadline is June 28th. This year, two $5,000 scholarships will be awarded.
Who Can Apply?
SIGMA Marketer Members’ employees who are actively pursuing or plan to pursue a degree, program, or specific training that will help advance or expand their career within their fuels industry company. Scholarship funds awarded must be used within 9 months of official notification.
Carl Boyett Industry Scholarship applications must include the following:
- An essay from applicants (no more than 1500 words) about your industry interests and goals. Please include answers to the following questions:
- Why are you passionate about the fuels industry?
- What education will you invest in and why?
- Two letters of reference from industry professionals endorsing your work ethic and potential.
Click Here for More Information and to Apply