This year saw number of significant legislative successes for the industry. A highlight was the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. A compelling and authoritative argument has been made that the extraordinary oil prices of 2008 were linked to excessive speculation as “non-traditional” investors, such as major pension fund managers, saw commodities such as oil as a hedge against inflation and a safe harbor as the financial collapse began to become a looming reality in 2007.
Industry trade groups such as the New England Fuel Institute and Petroleum Marketers Association of America help build a coalition of impacted parties that led to industry-friendly language in the Act that should add transparency and accountability to commodity derivatives markets in areas including energy futures, options and swaps.
Those that are more broadly petroleum marketers with operations that include motor fuels retailing and wholesaling trade groups, such as the National Association of Convenience Stores, PMAA and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, were able to get language included in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that forces the first cracks in reducing credit/debit interchange fees (debit card fees specifically) and the enhanced ability to promote a lower fuel price for cash transactions.
However, the battle is not over on either of these issues. The legislation represented a foundation and a structure, and the administrative rulemaking process will now fill in that structure. Unfortunately, the rulemaking process could easily dilute the signed legislation into a finalized law that does little to live up to its original intent. Wall Street and the banking industry are working hard with huge staffs and huge coffers to reverse these industry successes.
The associations that worked hard for these victories – NEFI, PMAA, SIGMA and NACS – recognize this peril and have reached out to their members for assistance in keeping the pressure on the regulators to ensure the law serves its full purpose. A news item details NEFI’s efforts. If these issues are critical to your operations – and they should be considering the impact of 2008’s oil prices – contact the appropriate trade groups and get involved. Your livelihood depends upon it.