March 26, 2020 View in browser
President's Message
Our thoughts continue to be with everyone as the propane industry does its part to power our country. We at NPGA are working diligently to assist you. In the past week, we’ve worked with dozens of government agencies and have seen them move relatively quickly—from inclusion of propane workers in the Federal “essential critical infrastructure workers” guidance (which has been picked up by many states) to hours of service waivers to matters pertaining to CDLs, HazMat training, and drug testing. We’ve provided guidance on NFPA-58 for temporary installations, began tracking 40 COVID-19-related state and local bills that impact the propane industry, created numerous COVID-19 guides and templates for NPGA’s members, and helped secure an additional $900 million in Federal LIHEAP funding in the third legislative relief package to assist millions of households suffering financial hardship to pay their energy bills.  We are monitoring Canadian and Mexican border closures and work being done by the Department of Labor on changes to the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act). We are also working to set up a series of webinars for you to share your best practices (and what hasn’t worked) with your colleagues during this crisis. We continue to collaborate with PERC and the state executives and if we, collectively, as your industry support team, can be doing anything else to assist, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us.
 
Stay safe,

Steve Kaminski
NPGA President & CEO
Department of Labor:
Employers and Employees Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides for paid leave in response to healthcare and child care needs caused by the current circumstances of COVID-19. The legislation provides for paid sick leave and paid family leave at different salary percentages. The paid sick leave and paid family leave provisions are applicable to employers of 500 employees or less; however, there are exemptions for some employers with fewer than 50 employees. The provisions are in effect until December 31, 2020.

The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for developing and implementing the details of the provisions. The WHD is currently fast-tracking the regulatory process to provide employers with details on how to recover costs and maintain adequate records for the paid sick leave and paid family leave requirements. The WHD will also identify the criteria for exempting businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

NPGA will provide members with more information on the regulatory procedures once finalized. In the interim, the WHD developed FAQs for employees and employers:


Please direct any legislative questions to Michael Baker , NPGA Legislative Director, and any regulatory questions to Sarah Reboli , NPGA Deputy Counsel, Regulatory Affairs. 
HME & Essential Worker Guidance
Still Developing. . .
Federal agencies continue to review a variety of regulatory issues in relation to the outbreak of COVID-19 and response actions by state and local officials. NPGA is in constant communication with multiple federal agencies on a number of issues most pertinent to the propane industry in order to provide clarity to our members. We will update members with additional information as soon as possible.

Hazardous Materials Endorsements. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), subject to determinations by state driver license agencies, is permitting a temporary extension of commercial driver licenses that are currently due for renewal. This does not extend Hazardous Material Endorsements (HME) or other endorsements. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has authority on HMEs, and FMCSA is communicating with TSA on potential extension of HMEs. Current FMCSA and TSA guidance are available in NPGA’s Department of Transportation: Enforcement Discretion and Regulatory Guidance , on the Membership Dashboard .

Proof of Essential Workers. Some NPGA members have asked how they can prove or demonstrate to local officials that certain propane industry employees qualify as essential workers based on the Guidance on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response developed by multiple federal agencies. Currently, there is no federal guidance on how to prove essential worker status. FMCSA suggests that essential workers keep on-hand the federal guidance and FMCSA, if necessary, will develop guidance on how to prove essential worker status. 

In the absence of federal guidance and to respond to member requests, NPGA is drafting a document for propane industry essential workers. Companies must confirm that (1) there is an ordinance in place, and (2) the ordinance directly incorporates the Guidance on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers. The Guidance on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers is not federally mandated and does not have the force of law, but must be incorporated by the state or local ordinance. In addition, companies should carefully review the federal guidance to check the eligibility of each employee. The draft document will be available under COVID-19 Resources on the Membership Dashboard.

NPGA is engaging agencies on other issues, as well. Please direct any questions to Sarah Reboli, NPGA Deputy Counsel, Regulatory Affairs. 
Congress Passes COVID-19 Legislation, Scales Back Operations
After a week of tense partisan negotiations, Congress has reached agreement on the contents of a third legislative package designed to offset the harm inflicted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. H.R. 748, the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, which includes approximately $2 trillion in federal spending, is primarily focused on strengthening the healthcare industry and small businesses. The Senate approved the package 96-0 early Thursday morning, with the expectation that the House will also move under unanimous consent, allowing Representatives to stay home in their respective districts. Following House approval, President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law by the end of this week.

  • Click here for a section-by-section summary of the CARES Act.

  • Click here for a summary of the CARES Act supplemental appropriations package.

In preparation for the CARES Act, NPGA conducted a grassroots campaign to urge Congress to increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) designed to help lower-income households heat and cool their homes. Industry members sent over 2,000 letters to more than 300 legislators on Capitol Hill. Those efforts resulted in the Senate including increased funding for LIHEAP in the third relief package. The bill includes $900 million in additional funding, which will be available for the program through September 30, 2021. NPGA will continue to assess the need for future emergency funding for LIHEAP.

The package also includes a short-term extension of the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program through July 23, 2020. The program, which places security requirements on large propane storage facilities as well as other chemical/fuel industries, was set to expire in early April. The short-term extension is designed to provide more time for Congress to reach a bipartisan agreement on updates to the program, however, disagreement over the future of CFATS has created a complicated path forward. NPGA will continue to work with a broad industry coalition to prevent updates that would increase the compliance burden for the propane industry.

While there are rumors that the Senate will head home following approval of the third stimulus bill, reports suggest another COVID-19 legislative package may be introduced in the coming weeks. As we have seen in the three existing packages, a fourth package would include significant federal resources for a variety of government programs. Early reports suggest infrastructure spending could be attached to the vehicle in lieu of a highway bill, which otherwise faces a difficult path forward in the highly-partisan political climate heading into the 2020 elections.

If you have questions about the COVID-19 stimulus packages, or the current federal legislative agenda, please contact Michael Baker.
2020 Expo Registration and
Exhibit Space Refunds
As you are aware, the 2020 NPGA Southeastern Convention & International Propane EXPO, scheduled for April 6 - 8 in Nashville, has been cancelled. NPGA emailed surveys to registered attendees, paid exhibitor personnel, and exhibit space contacts to determine how you would like us to manage your Expo refund. If you have received the survey and responded – thank you! No further action is required.

If you did not receive the survey, you may send an email by March 30 to one of the addresses below indicating your refund preference.


Please choose one of the following:

  1. I wish to contribute 100% of my company's 2020 Expo registration or exhibit space fees to NPGA.
  2. I wish to receive a refund of 50% of my company’s 2020 Expo registration or exhibit space fees and contribute the remaining 50% to NPGA.
  3. I wish to receive a full refund of my company’s 2020 Expo registration or exhibit space fees.

Additional questions may also be submitted to either email address.Thanks for you continued support of NPGA!
Small Business Administration Assistance
In the past weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other government entities, and several states have implemented practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by following the guidelines set forth by the President’s “15 Days to Slow the Spread” plan. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has released loan resources and assistance for small business affected by COVID-19. There are a variety of loans, resources, and assistance opportunities available for small businesses.

Small business owners in designated states and territories are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to COVID-19 under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. The SBA has decided to work with Governors to provide low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by COVID-19. For more information or to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, visit SBA.gov/Disaster.

Each loan and program have different eligibility criteria, so small businesses should review each program carefully to determine applicability. To access capital, SBA provides a number of loans for small businesses to utilize when operating their businesses with exporting assistance, government contracting, and local assistance opportunities.

Access to Capital Opportunities:

Government Contracting Opportunities:

Local Assistance Opportunities:

Please review the NPGA Member Dashboard for updates and guidance on COVID-19 documents. Please direct any questions to or share new information with Twana Aiken, NPGA Manager, Regulatory Affairs.
Supply News from EIA
Propane/propylene inventories decline

U.S. propane/propylene stocks decreased by 1.8 million barrels last week to 64.9 million barrels as of March 20, 2020, 15.5 million barrels (31.3%) greater than the five-year (2015-19) average inventory levels for this same time of year. Gulf Coast inventories decreased by 1.3 million barrels, East Coast inventories decreased by 0.3 million barrels, and Rocky Mountain/West Coast inventories decrease by 0.2 million barrels. Midwest inventories increased by 0.1 million barrels. Propylene non-fuel-use inventories represented 8.5% of total propane/propylene inventories.


Through the end of March 2020, prices for wholesale and residential heating oil and propane will be included in This Week in Petroleum and on EIA's Heating Oil and Propane Update webpage.
The information and commentary are intended to provide general information and do not constitute advice, recommendations, or speculation on propane demand or supply by NPGA staff or PERC staff.

Status of Activities and Events

This information was provided by the state associations, but due to the nature of the situation, please contact your state’s propane gas association to confirm specific information on meetings and events. If your organization cancels or changes an event, please share the information with NPGA’s Eric Sears.
Propane Community: Preventative Practices
Members can anonymously email info@npga.org describing how they are handling customer service, communicating with employees, and addressing the workplace environment – at the office and in the field. Preventative practices are shared on the COVID-19 webpage accessed through the NPGA Membership portal

Share your preventative practices by emailing info@npga.org !

Please note posted practices are intended to provide general information. They do not constitute legal advice, or regulatory, codes, or safety guidance. NPGA expressly disclaims any liability associated with the accuracy or content of the information and practices shared. Members should consult the government resources for the most complete and current information pertaining to COVID-19.
PERC Update
Changes to Your Hours of Services?
Update Google My Business

If you’ve recently changed your business hours of operation or other company policy due to the coronavirus, make sure to update that information on your Google My Business listing.
 
Those results will show up when prospective customers do an online search for a propane provider near them. More than 42,000 have accessed the Where to Buy tool on propane.com, with more than 21,000 individual searches using a zip code to find a supplier.
 
You can claim your Google My Business listing for the first time or optimize it by using resources on propane.com

Ready to Grow Your Business?
Join NPGA’s Benchmarking Council Today
Think there are ways you could grow your business or be more efficient? NPGA’s Benchmarking Council could help!
 
The Benchmarking Council provides opportunities for propane marketers to search for new ideas by comparing business practices with other marketers who share the same challenges. Discussion sessions are held three times per year and are in small groups and are constructed so that participants within each group do not compete directly in the marketplace. Topics for discussion are decided upon by members of each small group and may include any aspect of the business from personnel matters to bulk truck configuration.
 
There are immediate openings.
 
Want to join a group or visit the Council to see if you are interested in membership? So we can best match you with a group that suits your interests, please CLICK HERE and provide your information; we will contact you shortly to provide additional registration information.
 
For more information, contact NPGA’s Lesley Garland .

P3 Propane Safety Duty to Warn Service
Meet your obligation to provide important safety information to your customers in 2020 with the P3 Propane Safety Duty to Warn service. P3 handles the entire safety mailing process for you, including custom introductory safety letters and PERC scratch-and-sniff brochures, while costing less than the time and expense of internal safety mailing. Professionals will securely manage your customer list and provide a third-party verification certificate for your records. Protect your company and your customers with P3 Duty to Warn's cost-effective and comprehensive safety mailing service. 
Visit  propanedtw.com  to get a free, no-obligation quote
or call (888) 980-9927. 

National Propane Gas Association
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Phone: 202-466-7200  |  Fax: 202-466-7205

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