New York State petroleum and energy companies operate in a tremendously competitive market among themselves and with those selling competing fuels.
While doing business, marketers are subject to a myriad of specific state laws and regulations administered by agencies such as the Departments of Environmental Conservation, Taxation and Finance, Transportation, Motor Vehicles, Agriculture and Markets, and Public Service; the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance; and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. This does not even include the regular legal and regulatory requirements associated with conducting business in New York. Furthermore, petroleum and energy marketers are subject to additional regulation by federal agencies and local governments.
Given this extensive government oversight, the policies and actions of state government have a profound effect on marketers’ operations. Navigating the state’s complex and confusing legislative, executive, and regulatory arenas requires significant knowledge and experience. To meet this challenge of understanding and interacting with each branch of state government, ESEA has engaged the services of experienced professionals. They are:
John is Counsel at Harter Secrest & Emery LLP, where he has worked as a government affairs attorney for the last fifteen years. He advocates on behalf of a range of businesses, professional associations, and not for profit entities. He has particular experience representing clients in biotechnology, energy, higher education, and other highly regulated industries. He also assists clients strategize regarding the availability of and access to a variety of government funding mechanisms and other programs. Before he joined the Government Affairs department, he practiced for several years in the trial department, gaining invaluable experience honing his writing and advocacy skills representing clients in complex commercial litigation matters.
He serves as ESEA's retained lobbyist, and is also an adjunct professor in the Political Science department at Roberts Wesleyan College.
Complementing Harter Secrest’s legislative services is ESEA’s longtime regulatory counsel. As principal of the Petroccione Law Firm, LLC, Emilio has been an attorney practicing regulatory, administrative, and government affairs law for over 30 years. He has represented the Association before the state legislature, the Governor’s office, state agencies and authorities since 1983.
On behalf of ESEA’s members, the Association monitors, tracks, and provides input on hundreds of legislative bills and dozens of state regulatory proceedings annually.
Examples of issues that the Association has addressed on behalf of its members are:
ESEA advocated for a law requiring the exclusive use of ultra-low sulfur home heating oil statewide which was enacted in 2012. The switch to ULSHO brought numerous benefits to the environment, the oil heat industry, and especially heating oil customers. Use of ULSHO reduces emissions, prolongs the life of heating equipment, requires less equipment maintenance, improves energy efficiency of heating systems, and, when combined with renewable biodiesel, results in the cleanest heating oil fuel in the country.
ESEA has been a participant in the State Energy Plan Proceedings since the 1980s. The Association provides necessary and unique information and perspectives of petroleum product providers to the State Energy Planning Board. As the state continues to adopt more aggressive policies designed to disfavor fossil fuels in general and heating oil in particular, it is important for state policymakers to understand the role that petroleum products occupy and will continue to play in the state’s energy landscape. Consequently, ESEA has pointed out the necessity for a diverse energy market for environmental, reliability, and security reasons. The Association has also highlighted the advancements involving ULSHO and biodiesel blends, along with advancements in energy efficient heating equipment that have environmentally improved the use of home heating oil. ESEA also emphasized the benefits of a free competitive market, unconstrained by preferences of one fuel over another, along with the reminder that home heating oil and propane marketers are integral small businesses that benefit and contribute to the general local and state economy.
For years, the Association pushed for the enactment of a statewide biodiesel blend in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide consumers with the most environmentally friendly home heating fuel possible. In 2021, New York State enacted a bill requiring a 5% biodiesel blend for home heating oil by July 1, 2022, 10% by July 1, 2025 and 20% by July 1, 2030. This law made New York the largest state in the country to enact a blending requirement and completed a statewide transition to Bioheat® Fuel following the 5% requirements that had been in effect for New York City, Westchester County and Long Island.
The Association has provided comments, insight, and expertise to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in its revision of the petroleum bulk storage regulations. This massive undertaking involved rewriting the existing provisions to accommodate federal changes and new technology. ESEA’s input on subjects such as product storage, operator training, red tagging of tanks, and other critical issues, was invaluable for the industry, the Department, and ultimately the state’s environment.
Each year the state legislature seeks to impose countless restrictions upon motor fuel dealers and distributors. These often include limitations on product price, advertising, signage, credit card restrictions, and zone pricing. Each year, ESEA must be vigilant and convince the state that existing consumer protection laws and the free market are serving the public well.