|Urge Congress to Provide Liability Protection to Essential Critical Infrastructure Industries
PMAA, NACS, SIGMA, NATSO and several other associations are urging Congress to protect essential businesses that remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic from lawsuits and other claims by infected persons. The liability protection effort would provide essential businesses, designated as essential critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security, with immunity from lawsuits claiming money damages for persons who allegedly contracted COVID-19 at a business premises or as a result of business operations. The motor fuels, heating fuels and convenience store industries are at the forefront of COVID-19 response efforts and should not have to worry about future lawsuits for providing needed products and services to American consumers.
Please click here to urge your lawmakers for liability protection in a future COVID-19 response bill.
President to Sign Latest COVID-19 Response Bill into Law
After much negotiation, Congress passed the latest COVID-19 response bill that replenishes the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was established as part of the March 27, 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which had run out of money in less than two weeks. The President is expected to sign the bill into law at noon today.
While this bill will certainly be a big deal for those businesses that have applied for, but not yet received, a PPP loan, Congressional leadership is characterizing it as an interim funding effort, with the expectation that they will continue to negotiate a larger “phase 4” package in the coming weeks. In particular, this bill does not address relief measures for states and localities that the Democrats were pushing for and that we expect to see as part of a larger phase 4 package. Moreover, many are predicting that the new influx of cash into the PPP Loan money provided for in this bill will run out within a few weeks.
As proposed, the new bill would, among other things:
This bill simply increases funding and does not make any substantive changes to the PPP or the EIDL program. Thus, those small businesses that have already obtained funding through either program will not be impacted.
- Provide an additional $310 billion in funding for PPP loans.
- Provide an additional $10 billion in funding for Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.
- Provide the SBA with an additional $2.1 billion in funding to help administer COVID-19 response programs.
- Provide an additional $75 billion in funding to Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for the purposes of reimbursing health care providers for expenses and lost revenues related to COVID-19; and
- Provide $25 billion for COVID-19 testing, nearly half of which would be distributed (in amounts dictated by the terms of the bill) to states, localities, territories and American Indian tribes.
U.S. Supreme Court to Decide on Whether to Hear Challenge to the Point of Obligation Under the RFS
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled next month to decide whether it will review a challenge to the RFS point of obligation brought by Valero Energy Corp. and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). Independent merchant refiners petitioned the EPA in 2016 to consider changing the point of obligation under the RFS which is used to identify the party required to meet annual renewable fuel blending mandates established by the EPA. The EPA rejected the petition for rulemaking stating it did not anticipate any benefit from moving the point of obligation to position holders at the terminal rack. Instead, the agency contended such a change would significantly increase the complexity of the RFS program and reduce its effectiveness by exponentially increasing the number of obligated parties subject to annual blending mandates.
Independent merchant refiners who do not blend renewable fuel support moving the point of obligation to blenders position holders at the terminal rack so refiners would no longer required to purchase RIN credits which they currently rely on each year to meet their entire renewable fuel blending mandate. Merchant refiners say the cost of RIN credits is increasingly expensive and creates an uneven playing field by producing windfall profits for blenders who create and sell the RIN credits back to them for compliance with RFS blending mandates. Renewable fuel blenders, on the other hand, want to keep the point of obligation at the refiner so they can continue to earn profits off the sale of RIN credits they create through blending and use them to subsidize the price of gasoline and diesel fuel at their own retail outlets.
Valero and AFPM are asking the Court to decide whether the language of the Clean Air Act requires EPA to determine the point of obligation each year in the same rulemaking that sets annual RFS blending mandates for obligated parties. The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider whether it will hear the petitioners challenge to the way EPA determines the RFS point of obligation on May 15.
EPA Issues Final Rule Limiting Waters That Subject to Federal Jurisdiction
The EPA has published a final rule defining the scope of waters regulated under the Clean Water Act and subject to federal jurisdiction. The Navigable Waters Protection Rule significantly limits water features that fall under the definition of “Waters of the United States.” The rule is important to petroleum marketers because it limits the jurisdiction of the federal government over local land use issues involving certain water features that would otherwise be off limits to development due to their status as waters of the United States.
The final rule defines waters of the United States as waters within the ordinary meaning of the term, such as oceans, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands. The rule limits waters of the United States to territorial seas and traditional navigable waters; perennial and intermittent tributaries that contribute surface water flow to such waters; certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments of jurisdictional waters; and wetlands adjacent to other jurisdictional waters. Tributaries must be perennial or intermittent in a typical year; lakes and ponds must contribute surface water flow in a typical year to a territorial sea or traditional navigable water either directly or through a tributary, another lake, a pond, impoundment of an adjacent wetland, or be inundated by flooding from any other jurisdictional water; wetlands must abut and be flooded by a territorial sea or traditional navigable water, tributary, lake, pond or impoundment area.
The final rule excludes many water features that previously stretched the definition of waters of the United States to include depressions in the land and ditches that only occasionally contain water. Specifically, the final rule excludes the following water features from jurisdictional control by the federal government:
The final rule takes effect on June 22, 2020.
- Groundwater, including groundwater drained through subsurface drainage systems.
- Ephemeral features that flow only in direct response to precipitation, including streams, swales, gullies, rills, and pools.
- diffuse stormwater runoff and directional sheet flow over upland.
- ditches that are not traditional navigable waters, tributaries, or that are or not constructed in adjacent wetlands, subject to certain limitations.
- prior converted cropland.
- artificially irrigated areas that would revert to upland if artificial irrigation ceases.
- artificial lakes and ponds that are not jurisdictional impoundments and that are constructed or excavated in upland or non-jurisdictional waters.
- water-filled depressions constructed or excavated in upland or in non-jurisdictional waters incidental to mining or construction activity, and pits excavated in upland or in non-jurisdictional waters for the purpose of obtaining fill, sand, or gravel.
- stormwater control features constructed or excavated in upland or in non-jurisdictional waters to convey, treat, infiltrate, or store stormwater runoff.
- groundwater recharge, water reuse, and wastewater recycling structures constructed or excavated in upland or in non-jurisdictional waters; and
- waste treatment systems.
Bill Introduced to Provide Tax Relief to Grocery and C-Store Workers
On Tuesday, Reps. G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Dwight Evans (D-PA) introduced a bipartisan bill that would provide financial support to grocery and convenience store workers who have been deemed essential and continue to work despite the health risks associated with COVID-19. The bill, H.R. 6567, known as the “Giving Retailers and Our Convenience Employees Relief Act” (GROCER Act), would provide a federal tax holiday for grocery and c-store employees from February 15 through June 15 for those currently making less than $75,000 annually and work in a county with at least one confirmed COVID-19 case. Under the bill, eligible employees would be able to exempt up to $25,000 in gross income from their 2020 federal income taxes Furthermore, the legislation permits the Treasury Department Secretary to extend the tax holiday for an additional three months if they so choose. If an extension is granted, the cap would then be increased by $6,250 every month.
In a press release, Rep. Thompson said, “The GROCER Act is a simple way of saying 'thank you' to the men and women who put themselves on the front lines, sanitizing, stocking, and serving communities by putting a little more of their hard earned money back in their paychecks.” Speaking about the grocery and c-store employees this bill would benefit, Rep. Evans stated, "This bipartisan four-month income-tax holiday would be a way to thank these vital workers and help them meet their own needs.”
There is a possibility that this bill could be included in the “Phase 4” coronavirus relief package that is currently being discussed, although the timing of a vote on the package is unclear. Congress is not expected to return until May at the earliest, and even that could get pushed back.
FEMA Advisory Regarding Acquisition of Personal Protective Equipment
The COVID-19 National Strategy for Addressing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Shortage seeks to ensure protection against COVID-19. Businesses whose essential critical infrastructure workers need PPE to perform their duties should continue working with suppliers to acquire needed PPE but should expect shortages to continue. All industries should immediately implement strategies to preserve existing supplies of PPE and find alternative work methods to address shortfalls. A critical component in implementing PPE preservation strategies is determining the appropriate level of PPE for use. Non-healthcare industries should carefully consider whether PPE is required by law or regulation as part of their routine duties, or whether it is needed for mitigating employee exposure to COVID-19. For more information, see the FEMA Fact Sheet.
Please note this notice is not related to the masks orders that PMAA coordinated with the Department of Energy and FEMA. Those orders will be shipped within the next week.
PMTA Deadline Extended 120 Days to September 9th
This week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit granted the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) requests to have the deadline to submit Pre-Market Tobacco Applications (PMTA) pushed back 120 days, from May 12 to September 9, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The original letters to the courts from the Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of the FDA state, “The global coronavirus outbreak poses unforeseen challenges deadline and has made the May 12 deadline a public health risk to those who cannot comply with the through telework. As a result of the outbreak, many laboratories and contract research organizations, which perform required laboratory and clinical studies for manufacturers’ premarket applications, have shut down or suspended in-person work indefinitely.”
Tobacco products that were first introduced into the marketplace or modified after February 15, 2007, also known as the predicate date, must submit PMTA’s for the FDA to review and approve. PMTA’s require a product to meet a regulatory hurdle that can be complex and costly.
National Biodiesel Board Feeds the FDNY During the Coronavirus Crisis
Support New York City Fire Department & First Responders
The National Biodiesel Foundation (NBF) is assisting New York City and their emergency personnel with meals. You can help! Working closely with our biodiesel friends at the New York Fire Department's (FDNY) Incident Management Team, the National Biodiesel Foundation and the National Biodiesel Board are donating money for meals. Funds go directly to local restaurants and meals are delivered to FDNY's EMS stations, emergency response dispatchers, and other critical personnel. You can donate now to support this effort and help us provide meals and support local NYC restaurants.
NBF Executive Director, Tom Verry is working with FDNY's Incident Management Team personnel to provide meals where needed and in a timely fashion. The Department organizes the order and delivery for all the meals directly to personnel.
Over the years NBF and NBB have developed a special relationship with New York City. NYC has the largest municipal fleet in the U.S. and was an early adopter of biodiesel. NBF has worked with the city's fleets, including FDNY, to educate key industry stakeholders such as Congressional staff and agency representatives from EPA, USDA, and the Department of Energy about how biodiesel is used in the city fleets and how it is helping New York City meet its sustainability goals. While we wish we could do more to help, Lt. Fitch reports that these hot local meals have been a significant morale boost to the men and women who have received them to-date.
Support the FDNY as they battle the COVID-19. All proceeds will go to support the effort.
National Biodiesel Board is a PMAA Corporate Gold Partner.
Federated Insurance Risk Management Academy Webinar
Business Protection: Disaster Planning, Response, Recovery: Tuesday, May 5, 2020, 1:00 pm CT
Disasters of any type can be costly for businesses and even result in permanent closure. Taking steps to prepare and plan for potential disasters, both natural and man-made, will help businesses minimize disruption and recover more efficiently. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IBHS) offers two programs, OFB-EZ and EZ-PREP, which help owners protect their business’ bottom line, their employees, and create a more resilient community.
What you will learn:
Advance registration is required for this 45-minute webinar.
- Identify and evaluate your business’ vulnerability to disruptions
- Identify your key business functions, processes and develop alternative operational strategies
- Develop “best practices” that should be conducted five days before, 72 hours before, 24-48 hours before, during and immediately after, and during the recovery process for weather events with advanced warnings
For additional information or to discuss this in further detail, please contact your Federated regional representative or PMAA’s National Account Executive Jon Medo at 800.533.0472. Federated is a PMAA Corporate Platinum Partner.
PMAA Platinum Partner Spotlight Featuring: Meridian Associates, Inc.
Change with Less Pain! by Betsi Bixby
What today’s disruption has already taught us is speeding up change in your organization is necessary to not only survive but thrive. Are you yourself or some of your employees change resistant? Whether you believe resistance to change is a learned behavior or an innate characteristic, startling research has proven that resistance to change is fear-based. Therefore, one of the best things you can do for your company is educate yourself and your staff about positive fear management, especially now.
To read about the steps to conquer your fear, please click here.
To learn more about PMAA’s Corporate Platinum Partner, Meridian Associates, please visit or contact them at 800.728.9005.
Have You Considered Marketing Your Product or Service in PMAA’s 2020 Online Buyers' Guide?
The Petroleum Marketers Association of America ("PMAA") exclusive PMAA Buyers’ Guide (the "Guide") — the premier resource of relevant products and services for petroleum professionals — is available at the PMAA website.
PMAA partners with Overland Park, Kansas-based Strategic Value Media, a leading nationwide provider of print and digital media solutions for national, state and local trade and membership associations. PMAA is proud to provide its members with this useful and easily accessible year-round resource.
The 2020 version features updated and expanded company and product listings, in addition to other valuable information relating to the petroleum industry. The Guide provides PMAA members and other industry professionals with an efficient way to browse for goods and services and offers petroleum suppliers and companies exceptional visibility by showcasing their products and services to a targeted, industry-specific buyer group.
If your company or business has not yet taken advantage of this exceptional opportunity to highlight your products and services here, it is not too late! To learn more about advertising your products or services in this exclusive Guide, please email.
PMAA Corporate Gold Partner Spotlight Introducing: Sound Payments Petro Solutions
Sound Payments Waives Sound POS Fees for 3 Months to Support Businesses
As part of Sound Payment’s efforts to support small businesses during this challenging time, the technology company is waiving Sound POS service fees for three months for existing merchants and new merchants that are added in April.
“We are working hard at Sound Payments to develop and enhance our product offerings with creative ways to support businesses during these challenging times,” said Andrew Russell.
To help meet social distancing guidelines, Sound Payments is supporting small businesses with its mobile point-of-sale solutions, including curbside checkout and home delivery.
To read the press release in its entirety, please click here.