VOICE OF THE INDEPENDENT HEATING FUEL MARKETER
The New England Fuel Institute (NEFI) remains committed to advancing the public policy goals, including legislative and regulatory priorities, of the mostly small-business home heating industry in the region and beyond. This public policy agenda was written with the input of NEFI members and supporters. It aims to provide NEFI and its affiliates with a framework for identifying specific legislative and regulatory issues of interest, and help guide association professionals as they communicate the industry's concerns to lawmakers, regulators and the general public.
Technological breakthroughs in oil exploration and recovery, energy efficiency and alternative fuels have put North American energy independence within reach. However, not all American businesses and consumers are benefitting equally from this new "energy renaissance." Smart policies can help to bring more secure, stable and affordable energy to all Americans, spur economic growth and job creation, and strengthen security by making our nation less dependent on energy from unstable or hostile countries.
Therefore, we support policies designed to:
- Promote the safe and environmentally-responsible production of both conventional and alternative fuels. Many heating oil marketers have embraced biodiesel-blended heating oil, commonly referred to as Bioheat® Fuel. Bioheat® can be used safely in existing heating systems and the many environmental benefits are well-documented. The National Oilheat Research Alliance estimates that ultra-low sulfur heating oil blended with up-to 20% biodiesel emits fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs) than natural gas when evaluated over 100 years, while blends as low as 2% emit fewer GHGs when evaluated over 20 years. Much of the fuel sold today contains up to 5% biodiesel (B5). NEFI supports the inclusion of biodiesel in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and strongly supports preservation of the $1 per gallon tax credit for biodiesel blenders.
- Invest in energy infrastructure and transportation. For all Americans to benefit from today's energy revolution, petroleum and biofuels must be able to move to markets where they are needed, including and especially the Northeastern United States. Policymakers should lift Jones Act restrictions on sea-borne vessels that transport liquid fuels along the East Coast and permit the construction of new pipelines, storage facilities and terminals.
- Promote energy efficiency and conservation. We are ready to work with policymakers in the region and the nation's capital to educate consumers on conservation “best practices” and to increase the efficiency of our fuels. Our industry is building on an already impressive track record on energy efficiency through the introduction of a low-sulfur and biofuel-blended product that will reduce carbon emissions, improve system performance and bring to market a new generation of ultra-efficient heating technologies that will further maximize consumer savings.
Market Fairness & Competition
Our industry supports tens-of-thousands of good paying jobs nationwide; and represents billions of dollars in economic activity and investments in a cutting-edge fuel delivery infrastructure. This infrastructure is ready to bring the heating fuels of tomorrow to American homes today. These businesses are often intimately involved in their communities and have relationships with their customers that span several generations. From the commodity futures market to the retail home heating market, our members deserve the opportunity to compete on a level playing field. Therefore, government policies must avoid providing a direct or indirect competitive advantage to other industries.
We urge policymakers to:
- Embrace an equitable approach to U.S. energy policy. Policymakers at all levels of government should embrace an "all of the above" - not an "eggs in one basket" - approach to energy policy. Our nation and the New England region will benefit from a diverse energy portfolio that encourages competition and consumer choice in the home heating market. Elected officials and regulatory agencies should not be telling their constituents which fuel is best for them based on a perception (albeit inaccurate) that one fuel is more environmentally secure than another or that it will maintain an indefinite price advantage. Americans should be free to decide which fuel is best for their families.
- Acknowledge the risks of increased reliance on natural gas. Natural gas is 90% methane, a highly explosive and environmentally dubious element and a far more potent greenhouse gas than even carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, much of the existing gas infrastructure is aging or obsolete and leaking natural gas is a nation-wide crisis. A recent government report found these pipelines release as much as 69 billion cubic feet of gas into the atmosphere per year; equal to carbon emissions from six million automobiles. Gas leaks cost consumers more than $20 billion over ten years and have resulted in nearly 800 significant incidents including explosions that killed 116 people, injured 465 others and caused more than $800 million in property damage. Before investing in new natural gas infrastructure, existing lines should be repaired or replaced and at the expense of utilities, not taxpayer or ratepayers. Existing natural gas distribution and storage facilities should be held to the same high standards that already exist for liquid fuels.
- Prevent manipulation and excess financial speculation in the energy trading markets. Futures and swaps markets were established as tools for risk mitigation and price discovery for bona fide hedgers. While speculators are necessary for the proper function of these markets, scores of studies have found that a failure to properly monitor and limit speculative activity can exacerbate price volatility, unhinge markets from real world supply and demand, and create the opportunity for market manipulation. We urge the full implementation and enforcement of new and existing trading rules to ensure market transparency, prevent fraud and manipulation, and limit excessive financial speculation.
Regulatory & Tax Relief for Small Energy Providers
Escalating costs of compliance with federal regulations continues to burden America's small business heating fuel marketers. Unnecessary, duplicative or costly regulations and an outdated tax code stifle growth and competitiveness throughout our industry and have a negative effect on our employees, consumers and local economies. We are ready to respond to our members' needs in this regard.
Therefore, NEFI will:
- Pursue relief from harmful or costly regulations and outdated tax policies. NEFI will continue to be a voice for its members before federal regulators and their representatives in New England and encourage smart, effective and responsible regulations that are sensitive to the needs of consumers and small businesses. Acknowledging the small business nature of our industry, NEFI will oppose one-size-fits-all regulations that unfairly impose the same compliance burdens on both large producers and small energy distributors. We will advocate for lower regulatory fees, the adoption of low-cost compliance alternatives, reductions in administrative burdens and reporting requirements and a sensible tax code that allows our members greater freedom to invest in their businesses, employees and customers.
- Provide cost-saving compliance assistance. NEFI will continue to provide members with timely guidance on federal regulations that aims to reduce compliance costs; avoid heavy fines or fees associated with non-compliance; and increase the efficacy of related business operations. This includes timely regulatory alerts, bulletins and newsletter updates.
- Provide education and training seminars. NEFI will increase its offering of webinars, seminars and other educational programs. Seminars on new regulatory or tax changes, refresher courses on current regulatory requirements and other technical educational courses will be offered.
The above Public Policy Agenda was approved by the NEFI Board of Directors on March 15, 2014 and updated on April 12, 2017. It may be subject to further revision and modification.
Bioheat® is a registered trademark of the National Biodiesel Board.
New England Fuel Institute
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Click here to download the 2015-2016 National Public Policy Agenda PDF