Report by Jim Collura, NEFI Vice President & Director of Government Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In letter to Congress this week, NEFI listed priorities for heating fuel dealers and other home comfort providers as lawmakers begin work on a major new coronavirus relief bill. "With the next heating season now only a few months away, NEFI members and their consumers hope Congress will take the necessary actions to help them prepare for whatever mother nature - and importantly, the coronavirus - may bring," the letter said.
The letter supports commonsense liability protections and back-to-work incentives sought by other national trade associations and small-business advocates. NEFI also urged additional financial relief for struggling small businesses and consumers. This includes another round of stimulus payments, the president's payroll tax cut, and additional funding for the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
NEFI also urged passage of the Small Business Expense Protection Act, introduced as H.R.6821 in the House and S.3612 in the Senate. The bill reverses a recent IRS decision that prohibits businesses from deducting expenses paid for with forgiven PPP loans. "This misguided decision undermines the intent of the PPP and will result in significant tax liabilities for cash-strapped small businesses at the worst possible time," the letter says.
The letter asks Congress to help ensure a "robust and healthy workforce" by giving heating fuel delivery drivers and service technicians priority access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus testing, including antibody testing. The letter notes that service technicians are particularly vulnerable as they are among the few essential workers that require access to the customer's home.
Lastly, NEFI supports legislation that provides pandemic assistance to struggling biodiesel producers and feedstock growers. Many of these companies are experiencing significant hardship, particularly those that produce biodiesel from used cooking oil, as many restaurants are not yet fully operational. The letter endorses stimulus payments to biofuel producers as proposed in Section 60305 of the House-passed HEROES Act; and the bipartisan Renewable Fuel Feedstock Reimbursement Act (S.3756) introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). This legislation should help prevent reduced production capacity and plant closures and help ensure adequate supplies of biodiesel for blending into heating oil next winter.
The letter was addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA12), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD05), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA23), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Copies were also widely distributed to other key offices on Capitol Hill, particularly states and districts with large heating fuel markets.
Click here to read a copy of the letter.