2020 Legislative & Regulatory Recap

 

Direct Liaison with State throughout COVID-19 Pandemic

The PPA was in continuous contact with state officials in March and April to express the need for workers involved in the distribution of motor fuels, heating fuels, and HVAC services to be considered essential in the various COVID-19 mitigation restrictions issued by Governor Wolf. The PPA then continued to advocate for necessary waivers for summer fuel requirements, the deferment of deadlines for CDL/HAZMAT license renewals, and motor carrier fees. Most recent PPA efforts have included outreach to PA Department of Health to express the need for state vaccine prioritization for the energy sector in Pennsylvania.


Pennsylvania Adopts Ultra Low Sulfur Heating Oil Standard

PPA worked with regulatory agencies and key legislators to finalize the regulation that requires all heating oil in the state to have a maximum sulfur content of 15 ppm. The regulation was effective September 1, 2020. The PPA also expressed compliance concerns due to the warm winter of 2019 – 2020, COVID-19 market impacts, and an increased opportunity for product storage. PA DEP responded to this request by issuing a limited suspension of enforcement until February 28, 2021. Click here to view additional information.

Once the regulation was finalized, the PPA Heating Fuels Committee created a working group to communicate the benefits of ultra-low sulfur heating oil to consumers. More information regarding the material created by this group can be found here.


Opposition of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI)

The PPA has been engaged in a campaign (NoNewPAGasTax) throughout the year to oppose the inclusion of Pennsylvania in the regional Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) policy. TCI would impose a carbon cap-and-trade program on the sale of gasoline and on road diesel in participating states. This program is estimated to initially create a 17-cent increase to the cost of gasoline and an even higher increase to on-road diesel.

The Georgetown Climate Center has been facilitating discussions of this plan with the Governors of the twelve Northeast states (including Pennsylvania).  It has been reported that the decision by Governors whether to have their states join TCI will be made on December 21st.

The PPA has facilitated key meetings throughout the year with the Governor’s Office, DEP, Senate members, and House members to focus on reasons for our opposition. The following Op-Ed was also recently submitted by PPA President Mike McCarthy (Shipley Energy) and appeared on PennLive detailing the PPA’s position regarding TCI.

12/22/2020 Update: On December 21, 2020, the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia signed onto the TCI Memorandum of UnderstandingPennsylvania did not sign onto the MOU but was a part of a joint statement to show support in the continued development of the policy.

PA DEP also released a statement that Governor Wolf still generally supports cap and trade programs. The statement pointed to the Governor’s continuing fight and major focus to have the Commonwealth join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which would establish a cap and trade program on power plant emissions.

Not having Pennsylvania sign onto the MOU was the primary goal of the PPA’s opposition in 2021. TCI will still require vigilance on the part of PPA in the months ahead. States would still have the option of joining the program in the future.


Ongoing Collaboration with PEMA & DEP Energy Assurance Office

In 2019 a PPA Energy Assurance Task Force was created to interface with Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), PA DEP Energy Office, PennDOT, and PA State Police to provide a forum in which state officials would derive a better understanding of the workings and challenges of the petroleum distribution system. The forum also allowed petroleum industry attendees to better understand of the challenges the state experiences, especially in times of emergencies.

A primary takeaway of this meeting resulted in a limited exemption for liquid fuel (gasoline, heating oil, propane) deliveries during future commercial motor vehicle (CMV) state-imposed travel restrictions. More information on this exemption within the PA Inclement Winter Weather Travel Restriction Framework can be found here. These restrictions were recently put in place for Winter Storm Gail and will be regularly implemented for future inclement weather events.

The relationship with these state partners has continued to evolve into regularly scheduled discussions focused on identifying industry concerns and creating potential solutions. Examples of 2020 topics included changes in consumer behavior caused by the pandemic, fuel supply dynamics for the upcoming winter, and the added need for Hours of Service relief due to various challenges regarding CDL drivers.


Withdraw of USTIF Funds & No 2021 Fee Increase

On December 10, the Department of Insurance Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund (USTIF) Board met and determined no fee increase was warranted in 2021. Chaired by PPA appointee Bruce Sheller, the Board decided a fee increase was not necessary after the annual report from the Board’s actuaries was received by the panel that outlined the strong financial status of the Fund. The law the created USTIF requires that the fund be actuarially sound.

The question of whether a fee increase would be necessary was particularly relative at this juncture because the state budget process in late November transferred $30 million of the Fund’s assets to the General Fund to help balance the state’s FY 2020-21 budget.

In addition, the Board approved the annual request from DEP for an allocation of funds to be used toward cleanup programs and administrative costs related to the management of the Storage Tank Program. Included in that allocation were monies to be used in the conjunction with the Underground Home Heating Oil Cleanup Reimbursement Fund. That fund provides for reimbursement of cleanup costs of incidents involving 3,000 gallon or smaller tanks. These cleanup projects are eligible for reimbursement of up to $4,000, with a deductible of $1,000.


Recognizing  2020 PPA Political Action Committee (PAC) Supporters 

The Political Action Committee established a $40,000 fundraising goal this year. To date $23,670 (approximately 60%) in personal funding has been contributed to the PPA PAC. While we will fall short of the 2020 goal, we would like to emphasize has been the most annual PAC contributions received in the last 10 years by a record amount (86 different individuals) supporters. A complete list of 2020 supports can be found here. If you have not yet contributed to the PAC and would like to do so please click here.