The industry worked hard to get curbs in place in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that was signed into law last year by President Obama. That included reforms designed to reduces excessive speculation in the energy markets and put limits on debit interchange fees. Both accomplishments are currently under heavy attack.
On the speculation front, the law is currently bogged down in the Commodity Future Trading Commission rulemaking process. Key components of that law keep getting pushed back and appropriations needed to fund CFTC oversight under the new law are being limited.
On the debit fee front, a bill introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) would delay implementation of the Durbin amendment for more study in what is basically a “kill bill.”
The goal in both cases is to ride out the current Congress and presidential administration until a likely more favorable change occurs in Congress and the presidency in 2012. The financial industry hopes to position the issue among small government, conservative Republicans and like-minded Democrats as one of overreaching government regulation and government price fixing. They have currently enjoyed some success in this regard.
The trade associations involved in this fight – the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, New England Fuel Institute and the National Association of Convenience Stores – have implored their members to become involved in the process and educate both existing and new members of Congress as to the real world impact these issues have on business, jobs and the economy. There is only a limited time frame left to support these issues. However, a solid push from industry members can make a quick and significant difference for both issues.
NEFI, PMAA and NACS (and most state associations) encourage any member of the downstream petroleum industry who feels these issues are important to his or her livelihood to contact their national or state associations for guidance on how to become involved in the process and make sure the victories that were attained against great odds are not defeated after the fact through complacency. The process is actually quite simple and not overly burdensome, particularly compared to what is at stake.