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August 13, 2020
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  

The passage of Tropical Storm Isaias through New Jersey left many residents and small business owners without power. We're now over a week removed from the storm.  There are plenty of downed trees and debris yet to be cleared, and a few isolated areas that continue to experience power issues.

Last week, we heard from a member that was in that exact situation. He stated that electricity would not be restored to his area until sometime this week. In doing so, the member recalled that he had participated in the Retail Fuel Station Energy Resiliency Program, and had a generator transfer switch box installed at his location.

You will recall that the Energy Resiliency Program was a joint NJEDA and NJOEM effort implemented after Superstorm Sandy. The goal was to allow for station owners to continue to dispense fuel during power outages and emergency situations. There were two-tiers of grants awarded; one for a full generator installation, the other for the installation of a transfer switch on site that would allow for the quick-connection of a portable generator.

NJGCA was at the forefront of this effort and advocated strongly for its advancement as an alternative to Trenton requiring ALL gas stations install a backup generator.  Once passed, NJGCA also helped many members apply for the program and obtain funds. 

Now, years later, the money has been exhausted and the grant program closed. Still, many station owners have benefited from these efforts. In the latest storm outage, owners used on-site generators and transfer switch hook-ups procured through the Resiliency Program to keep operating until power was restored.

But that's only part of the equation. Hardware installations aside, when a state of emergency is declared, small business owners are to contact their local OEM manager with a request for a generator. That local manager then kicks it up to the county, who then refers the need to NJOEM. From there, federal partners at FEMA could be roped in to address the station's need - and hopefully have a generator delivered (and hooked up to the existing transfer switch).

During a wide-scale emergency disaster like Superstorm Sandy, resources and materials can be dispatched quickly. When local areas are affected on a small-scale, the attention and resources of government (especially during a pandemic) are not so rapidly deployed. But even when large resources are marshaled, despite good intentions, many residents go unaided. I would refer you to the fleet of generators that were sitting idle in Pennsylvania during New Jersey's Sandy recovery efforts and were never utilized because no one had a proper hookup for them.

All of this brings me back to the member who reached out to us last week. In asking for help from NJOEM, this member waited some time before hearing back from State officials - let alone receiving actual help. NJGCA was able to short-cut this communication on behalf of the member, but the process lingered and the station remained out of power.

There are good reasons why business owners and average citizens are continually frustrated by the engagement and response of government. Tropical Storm Isaias is a reminder of that. Our strong advice to avoid a similar situation is for members to take matters into your own hands. The installation of a quick-connect transfer switch by NJOEM years ago did not mean station owners had to rely exclusively on the State to "save the day" and deliver a generator. Rather, station owners at the time were encouraged to make their own arrangements, through private contracting, to secure a generator service that could be called upon when/if an emergency arose.

And that's all for a very good reason. Full generator installations are expensive to install and maintain. Servicing contracts must be entered into to keep the equipment functioning properly. It costs a ton of money! This plain fact alone is part of the reason why the Energy Resiliency Program had only a finite amount of funds for full-installations; and why the quick-connect transfer switches were installed to at least put stations in a better position to supply their own generators.

All of this to say that station owners don't have to go and buy an expensive generator or service contract to stay operating during an outage. If you have a transfer switch installed at your site, you can procure your own emergency generators through a rental company or similar equipment company on your own. Immediately after Superstorm Sandy, NJGCA had several MBPs on hand that specialized in this type of service. We are currently reinvestigating this space and researching who you can call if such a situation arises again.

In the meantime, if any NJGCA member has had a positive generator supplier agreement experience, we would like to hear about it. Please feel free to contact Nick at nick@njgca.org to offer up their contact information for other members to utilize. 

I wish I could report more hopeful news, but another week has passed that Governor Murphy has not conditionally vetoed the workers comp legislation that we have been begging him to do. Thank you again to our members who sent emails to the governor's office. We are learning from other business organizations that their members are doing the same, but also that labor unions (especially AFL-CIO) are putting in tremendous effort to have the governor sign the bill as is and make you automatically responsible if one of your employees gets COVID. We are totally opposed to this, it's just not fair or reasonable. I have been trying to get the press to pay attention for over a week. Click HERE to read each of the press releases that have been sent out.
We are also trying to protect businesses from customers filing lawsuits and claims to blame businesses because they contracted COVID. We are aware that lawyers are gearing up for the inevitable claims that are going to be filed and we are even learning that there are funds being put together to finance the legal activity pursuing these claims. Unless the federal or state government pass legislation protecting business, then it can be reasonably assumed that frivolous lawsuits are going to be filed. It's only going to take one customer that came down with the virus, was seriously ill or maybe long-lasting lung damage, and files a lawsuit claiming it happened because they were in your place of business. We see this all the time with "slip and fall" lawsuits when customers fall and hurt themselves on your property. The only difference between these two scenarios is that traceability and proof is much harder to establish with COVID. Since lawyers know that there is a huge cost to defend yourself, they will seek settlements which many will want to try to take advantage of.
We received this information yesterday from our attorney MBP Steven Horowitz:
The CDC recently updated its guidance page with regards to how to treat employees who show Coronavirus symptoms that do NOT require hospitalization. The need for an employee to supply a "test based result" is no longer required.  The link to the CDC website that discusses these changes is HERE. If you have any questions regarding employees testing positive for COVID, reach out to Michelle at michelle@njgca.org to put you in touch with Steve.
Be Well -  
Sal Risalvato
Executive Director




  Training Class Schedule  

All classes held at NJGCA HQ -- 4900 Route 33 West, Wall Township, NJ 07753

Two-Day Emissions Inspector Training Class
September 16th & 17th, 2020

After a long delay due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, NJGCA is pleased to announce that our training classes will resume! If you, a colleague, or an employee technician wishes to become a NJ Emissions Inspector, we can help and now is your chance! NJGCA will offer a two-day class with all the information and training you need to become a NJ Emissions Inspector.
On day one you will receive in-class instruction from NJGCA's instructor. We will break for lunch (provided), and the State will administer the written test in the afternoon. On day two will go over the hands-on test at an emission inspection location to fully prepare you for the hands-on test.
In light of the current crisis, and to protect both students and staffers, all participants must wear facemasks at all times while on the premises and respect social-distancing guidelines.

September class registration click here



  News Around The State  

Reasonable and Fair Edition IV
On Monday, Governor Murphy again mentioned the crowded Jersey Shore bar lines that risk spreading the virus. The governor said "Once again we are seeing documented news reports of bars that have been trying to do the right thing once patrons got in; but lines were filled with young people who were neither keeping socially distanced nor wearing masks. . . By the time these patrons would have even gotten in, the virus could have already spread just through the line. . .If we have to shut places down to protect public health we will." The governor also mentioned other indoor crowded house parties that were broken up over the weekend, remarking "this can't go on." Risalvato responded, "Governor Murphy is definitely right that these large indoor gatherings must stop and that we must take responsibility for our actions. Asking him to conditionally veto S-2380 does just that. Gas stations, auto repair shops, and convenience stores are certainly agreeable to accepting a presumption of culpability as their responsibility when it is appropriate. But should others who act irresponsibly by waiting in crowded bar lines and attending indoor house parties be permitted to then place culpability on their employers?"

Op-Ed: Why Gov. Murphy Should Rule Out an Increase in Gas Tax and Even Go Further
A recent poll of residents conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University, in collaboration with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, found that 49% of respondents were opposed to the recent 36% increase in tolls on the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike. While it shouldn't be a surprise that people oppose toll hikes, what should raise eyebrows is that 50% of toll opponents said they objected because they did not believe the funds will be spent on road repairs, the basis for imposing the new rates. As many of us are driving more lately, observations regarding the continued state of disrepair of our infrastructure in New Jersey have resurfaced. According to that same FDU poll, only 23% of residents feel our state's roads are getting better, and even less, 22%, feel they are getting safer. While the jury will remain out for several years on the infrastructure improvements promised by the new turnpike and parkway toll rates, we already know that the state has fallen far behind in delivering on promised gas-tax investments.

NJ Business Coalition Urges Governor to Let New Jersey Reopen for Business
With coronavirus numbers in the state declining, the New Jersey Business Coalition, a collection of more than 100 business and nonprofit groups, submitted a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy today urging him to end the "pause mode" of the reopening of New Jersey's businesses. . .The letter states: "If 'data determines dates' relative to reopening, as Governor Murphy has consistently said, it is appropriate that as our COVID-19 cases continue to go down, New Jersey's economic numbers should rise. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and we find ourselves and our economy in an unnecessary and extenuated 'pause mode.' NJGCA is a member of this coalition and signed on to this letter.

Consumers More Likely To Consider Used Than New
As used-vehicle prices rise and retailers plan to expand their used operations, Americans' intent to buy previously owned vehicles is outpacing consideration of new vehicles amid economic uncertainty related to COVID-19, according to a study by McKinsey & Co. The consulting firm's COVID-19 Auto & Mobility Consumer Insights study found that American consumers overall are more hesitant to buy or lease a vehicle since the outbreak began. Used-vehicle consideration remains down compared with pre-pandemic levels, but it is stabilizing, while new-vehicle intent is decreasing. Given the current COVID-19 situation, whether they were "not likely, likely or very likely" to buy/lease a new or used vehicle in the next 12 months.

NJGCA: Reasonable and Fair Edition III
On Wednesday, Governor Murphy asked the people of New Jersey on his daily Coronavirus update to "take responsibility for our actions; and that means no crowded indoor house parties." New Jersey has recently seen its rate of transmission rise to its highest rates since April, with officials predicting this trend will continue. House parties and events where partygoers are not social distancing or following mask rules throughout the state recently have largely been to blame for these. Earlier last week, the governor reported "we are now back, plus or minus, to where we were roughly a month ago in the daily numbers of new cases." Risalvato responded, "Governor Murphy is 100% correct when he says that we must take responsibility for our actions. Yes we must. But isn't that the point of asking him to conditionally veto S-2380? Gas stations, auto repair shops, and convenience stores are certainly agreeable to accepting a presumption of culpability as their responsibility when it is appropriate. But should others who act irresponsibly be permitted to then place culpability on their employers?"

Your Face Mask in the Garbage Could Make a Great Biofuel
Researchers at India's University of Petroleum and Energy Studies say they've identified a way to turn unprecedented amounts of disposed personal protective equipment (PPE) plastic into biofuels. The paper appears in the journal Biofuels, part of the Taylor & Francis publishing group. "Once these plastic materials are discharged into environment they end up in the land fills or oceans as their natural degradation is difficult at ambient temperature. They need decades to get decomposed by the microbial organism," the researchers explain.



  Energy Information Agency Weekly Retail Gasoline Prices  
Each week, the Energy Information Administration publishes a list of average gasoline prices for the previous three weeks. NJGCA will begin including this list with the Weekly Road Warrior. Remember, these prices are reflective of self-serve everywhere except NJ.


  Member Benefit Partner Message Board  



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