|Biden Administration Policy Priorities
On January 20, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. At the top of President Biden’s policy agenda is COVID-19 relief and recovery.
As outlined on January 14, the Biden Administration intends to pursue a $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan, which is expected to include an additional $20 billion for transit to maintain employee payroll and ensure maintained service. In February, the Administration will likely release its second piece of COVID relief legislation focused on Recovery, which may include an infrastructure portion used to spur economic growth and generate immediate jobs. Although a $15 federal minimum wage is included, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) says that is an absolute no starter, as are expanding paid leave for workers and providing $350 billion to state and local governments.
Beyond the current pandemic, the first days of the Biden Administration will inform his approach to tax, national security, climate, trade, healthcare, antitrust, and technology policy. On day one, President Biden’s Executive Orders made it abundantly clear he will seek to reverse much of the Trump Administration’s regulatory agenda. Biden is directing his team to review nearly 100 Trump-era actions, ranging from relaxed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to restrictions on how the agency considers science in policymaking to decisions declining to tighten federal air quality limits. However, much of Biden’s regulatory agenda will take months, if not years, to implement with no guarantee that these efforts will be successful. The requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act and various federal statutes could impose hurdles to the Biden Administration’s goal of repealing or revising the prior administration’s major regulatory initiatives. Plus, Republican led states and conservative groups are likely to challenge the Biden Administration’s final rules in court.
The Biden Administration may leverage a tool known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA). With a simple majority vote in the House and Senate, Congress can use the CRA to undo any regulations implemented by the Trump Administration within the last 60 legislative days (August 21, 2020). Of note - using the CRA to repeal a rule would prevent the Biden Administration from issuing a future new rule that is substantially similar, unless otherwise directed by Congress. The practical effect is that the Biden Administration will exercise caution when deciding whether to use the CRA.
Narrow Democratic majorities in Congress will require President Biden to reach across the aisle to recruit Republican support. Infrastructure was front-and-center during the Biden campaign and, given historical bipartisan support, an infrastructure package may prove to be President Biden’s key bipartisan priority in his first 100 days.
In addition to policy priorities, President Biden announced appointments to several cabinet and senior-level positions, including South Bend, Indiana Mayor and former Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation. Although Buttigieg seemed to indicate he was open to all manners of funding during his confirmation hearing yesterday, a DOT spokesperson announced that Buttigieg does not support increasing the federal gas tax. Biden also announced that New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg would serve as Deputy Secretary.
Also, Deanne Criswell is selected to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which is primarily responsible for responding to natural disasters. She is currently the commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department, and she also worked at FEMA under the Obama Administration.
Biden Administration Places Freeze on Federal Agency Rulemaking Process
While President Biden will begin his term with a Democratic Congress, the events leading up to the inauguration have stymied Congress’s ability to confirm cabinet members and, as such, it may take a few weeks for the Biden Administration to be fully operational, especially with the prospect of another impeachment trial looming.
The Biden Administration this week, imposed a freeze on new and pending federal regulations. The freeze is designed to ensure that new and pending regulations are first reviewed by Biden appointees for consistency with the incoming Administration’s regulatory agenda before they take effect. The freeze is directly aimed at the flurry of regulations proposed or issued during the closing days of the Trump Administration. Last minute regulations and subsequent freezes are common when presidential administrations change, particularly when the incoming president is a member of the opposing party.
US Refiners Aim to Reduce Carbon Footprint
The freeze places a 60-day hold on all final rules already published in the Federal Register but, with effective dates after January 20, 2021. Pending review, final rules subject to the 60-day hold may be issued as written, amended or withdrawn entirely after a 30-day public notice and comment period.
The freeze also halts further action on proposed rules, policy determinations, regulatory interpretations and other regulatory actions currently under agency consideration. Once reviewed, regulatory actions subject to the freeze will be amended or withdrawn altogether. Among these regulatory actions is a recent proposal by the EPA to ease underground storage tank compatibility requirements in order qualify existing E10 certified UST systems for E15 service. The EPA is also proposing to modify or eliminate the current E15 dispenser warning label and determine whether states are preempted from issuing their own E15 label requirements.
Trump era regulations that do not qualify for the regulatory freeze because they took effect before January 20, 2021, could be rolled back more slowly by pending lawsuits or through the public notice and comment rulemaking process. These rules include: lowered mileage standards for cars and trucks; less stringent greenhouse gas emission standards for both stationary and mobile sources; and the recent “waters of the United States” rule that limits the definition of wetlands that qualify for protection from development.
U.S. refiners are issuing comprehensive documents to highlight their efforts to reduce GHG emissions through renewables. Click here for the story.
Reminder: EMA’s COVID-19 Situational Update & Resources Webpage
EMA is working closely with the U.S. Departments of Energy, Transportation, Small Business Administration (SBA), Homeland Security, Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, & Emergency Response, the EPA, and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to mitigate any negative impact of the COVID19 coronavirus on energy marketers. The talks are a continuation of EMA’s ongoing emergency preparedness initiative to establish and maintain coordination between marketers and emergency response officials during declarations of emergency to ensure adequate fuel supply is available to consumers. EMA encourages you to notify EMA staff of any needs or concerns that you have so that we can communicate to the most efficient government employees to obtain the information or the help that you may need.
Celebrating 2020 Highest Percentage Amount and Largest Contributor Winner States
Click here to access EMA’s COVID-19 Situational Update and Resources webpage which provides updates on important issues impacting energy marketers such as Automatic Extension of Expiring CDLs, CLPs and Medical Certificates; TSA Driver Hazmat Endorsements; CDC updates; State and Local Orders and Paycheck Protection Program information.
States That Met Their 2020 Goals
EMA provides petroleum marketers across the country a unified, united voice in Washington D.C. One way that marketers can assist EMA in carrying out our legislative and regulatory goals is to support the EMA Small Business Committee PAC (EMA SBC PAC).
PAC co-chairs Brad Bell and Tim Keigher announce that the 2020 highest percentage winner is Ron Leone and Wayne Baker, as well as all the members of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and CSA at $11,850 and 248% of their goal! Also, the highest contributor is Eric DeGesero and Larry Ray as well as all the members of the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey that raised $12,400! Thank you, Missouri, and New Jersey, for your continued generosity and excellence in supporting the goals of the industry.
Brad and Tim also wish to celebrate the 12 states that met or exceeded their 2020 state goals:
Alabama/Bart Fletcher raised $10,451 or 161%.
Idaho/Eric Busch & Suzi Budge raised $2,350 or 112%.
Hawaii/Annie Marszal & Kimo Haynes raised $545 or 100%.
Kentucky/Bob Riley & Brian Clark raised $5,204 or 101%.
Minnesota/Jay Cattoor & Tim Gross raised $10,625 or 221%.
Mississippi/Rex Gillis & Philip Chamblee raised $5,120 or 100%.
Missouri/Wayne Baker & Ron Leone raised $11,850 or 248%.
Nevada/Jason Case & Peter Krueger raised $2,300 or 124%.
North Carolina/Doug Howey and Gary Harris raised $9,787 or 103%.
North Dakota/Mike Rud raised $4,800 or 145%.
Virginia/Mike O’Connor raised $4,384 or 101%.
Washington/Jay Schneiders & Lea McCullough raised $5,975 or 206%.
Congratulations to all who made their goal. Brad and Tim hope that more states will exceed their goals in 2021.
Appeals Court Blocks Last Minutes Trump Administration Refinery Exemptions
If Brad or Tim can be of any assistance in helping you raise PAC dollars for EMA, please give them a call.
Before President Trump left office, the U.S. EPA issued a total of three small refinery exemptions from RFS blending mandates (two waivers for the 2019 compliance year and one waiver for the 2018 compliance year). However, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked implementation of the three refinery exemptions and gave EPA until February 3 to provide an explanation of its action. Several waiver requests remain outstanding for 2019 and 2020, which the Biden Administration will need to address although the Trump Administration did extend the compliance deadline for 2019 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) to November 30, 2021 as well as the 2020 deadlines to January 31, 2022, and June 1, 2022.
Keystone XL Pipeline Permit Revoked
The Trump Administration delayed action on granting most of the small refinery exemptions for 2019 and 2020 biofuel-blending requirements due to ongoing litigation over the validity of such waivers. The EPA decision came shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review an U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last year invalidating 3 small refinery exemptions. The court of appeals ruled that the EPA improperly issued the exemptions retroactively to small refineries whose earlier temporary exemptions had already lapsed. Since 2017, the retroactive small refinery exemptions have reduced renewable blending volumes by nearly 4 billion gallons, primarily corm ethanol. Review by the U.S. Supreme Court will likely add volatility to the RINs market until a final ruling is handed down.
On Wednesday, among the many environmental policies that the new Administration is expected to reverse, President Biden signed an Executive Order revoking a critical permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. “The Permit is hereby revoked,” Biden's executive order says. “Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”
Federated Insurance: Risk Management Corner
EMA strongly supports development of the Keystone XL Pipeline which has had more than ten years of debate and multiple environmental impact studies that have shown the pipeline would have no effect on climate change.
Meanwhile, President Biden also announced a moratorium on oil and gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that Trump’s administration had recently opened to development. Click here for the story.
Risk Management Resolutions: Look Back to Look Forward
When you think about your past year in risk management, what sticks out to you? What worked? What didn’t? What can you improve? Did you have an above-average safety record? Maybe one of your employees was injured. Did your attitude toward workplace safety help or hinder your success? Now is a good time to take stock of the past 12 months, as unusual and unprecedented as they were, and move forward using the experience you gained. Here are a few ideas to help get you thinking about how to use 2020 to create a better 2021.
EMA Member Services Spotlight Featuring: National Purchasing Partners (NPP
For additional information or to discuss further, please contact your Federated regional representative or EMA’s National Account Executive Jon Medo at 800.533.0472. Federated is a EMA Corporate Platinum Partner.
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