Government Remains Shutdown; Minimal Impacts on Highway, Fuel Policy

Parts of the federal government, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, remain shut down as the 116th Congress gavels into session. For the time being, however, there are minimal impacts on policies affecting motor fuels or highways. This could change, however, if the shutdown continues for several more weeks.

There are no impending EPA rulemakings pertaining to the Renewable Fuel Standard scheduled for the coming weeks, though there are several rulemakings expected in February. If the partial government shutdown extends into the latter half of January, it could result in a regulatory backlog at EPA and potentially delay these rulemakings, which pertain to allowing E15 to be sold year-round throughout the country, reforming RIN markets, and "resetting" the statutory baseline for renewable volume obligations that refiners must meet under the RFS.
 
With respect to highway policy, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are mostly funded out of the Highway Trust Fund and will generally stay open as the federal gasoline and diesel excise taxes continue to be collected. Work on issuing new regulations, however, will stop throughout the Department of Transportation.
 
While State Departments of Transportation are not facing an immediate crisis, the funding increases included in the fiscal 2019 transportation appropriations bill are being held up as the bill remains stuck in Congress.  In addition to a 1.5 across-the-board increase in spending, the legislation also provides nearly $50 billion for highway infrastructure, with approximately $800 million targeted to bridges in rural areas.
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David Fialkov

David Fialkov is the Vice President of Government Relations, as well as the Legislative and Regulatory Counsel, at NATSO. In this capacity, Mr. Fialkov directs NATSO's legislative, regulatory, and legal strategy on a range of issues, including transportation, energy and fuels, labor, data security, and taxes. Mr. Fialkov also oversees NATSO's political engagement program, including individualized legal and political counsel to member companies. Prior to joining NATSO, Mr. Fialkov was the senior associate in the Government Affairs and Public Policy practice at the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson in Washington, D.C. At Steptoe, Mr. Fialkov advised clients on legislative, regulatory, and political issues, as well as legal concerns. His primary clients included trade associations representing the motor fuel wholesale and retail industries, including the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America. Mr. Fialkov's focus was not only on the motor fuels business, but also the litany of other issues that retailers confront, including labor matters, foodservice issues, healthcare and employment issues, tax matters and data security. Prior to joining Steptoe, Mr. Fialkov graduated with honors from George Washington University Law School. He received his B.S. Summa cum laude with highest honors from Clark University in Worcester, MA. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Allison and daughter Lilah. More
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