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October 22, 2020
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  

The NJ Economic Development Authority has provided new information about the new phase of grants they are distributing to certain small businesses. Any business with 50 or fewer "full-time employee equivalents" (FTEs) will be eligible to apply for these grants, including businesses which already received money from Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 of this program. The EDA is trying to apply some lessons from the prior two phases in this offering. In order to apply for a grant in Phase 3, you are required to pre-register on their website, create a log-in and password, and input a variety of information about your business. This will save you the trouble of having to do it on the morning the grant applications open up. It should take about 15 minutes to complete the process. They had some technical problems on Monday when the process opened, but appear to have since corrected them. You can pre-register HERE. You must complete the pre-registration process by Tuesday, October 27th at 5pm, or else you will not be able to apply for a grant.
Businesses with five or fewer FTEs can apply for a grant of $5,000 starting at 9am on Friday, October 30th. Businesses with between 6 and 50 FTEs can apply starting at 9am on Monday, November 2nd. Those with between 6 and 25 will be eligible for $10,000 and those with 26-50 will be eligible for $15,000. The number of FTEs you have should be listed on the quarterly WR-30 form filed with the state Department of Labor, or else you can use this webpage from the EDA to determine how many FTEs you have.
As before, these grants will almost certainly be oversubscribed within the first 2 hours after applications open, so make sure you are fully prepared and at your computer at 9am.
Since you will be asked during the pre-registration and/or application process: gas stations, auto repair businesses, and convenience stores were all declared essential by the Governor's Executive Order 104. The NAICS code for your business is:
Gasoline Station with convenience store: 447110
Gasoline station without convenience store: 447190
Auto Repair and Maintenance (no gas): 811111
Convenience Store (no gas): 445120
During the application process, you will likely be asked what the grant money will be used for. The only reason they ask this question is that legally government aid cannot be used to cover the same expense twice. So if you used PPP money to cover April payroll, you cannot also use EDA Phase 3 money to cover April payroll, but you can use it to cover October payroll, or rent, or interest payments, or to purchase PPE, etc. They have promised to also upload a sample of the application before the launch date. You can view an informational pdf about the pre-application process the EDA has prepared by clicking HERE. You can also visit the main webpage for this grant (which is also where the application link will be once it is available) HERE
In the last week, we have been contacted by both a Member and Member Benefit Partner concerning our previous updates on the mandated Stage II Decommissioning. While we've sent out a few synopsis updates and a link to the actual DEP Advisory on this topic in previous Road Warrior e-newsletters, it was our Compliance Bulletin on page 56 in the current October Edition of On The Road that prompted them to reach out to us.
In our Compliance Bulletin, we revisited the DEP Advisory, Stage II vapor recovery systems and the December 23, 2020 deadline. While we properly identified the affected systems as "Stage II vacuum assist vapor recovery systems" in the introductory paragraph, we failed to repeat "vacuum assist" before "vapor recovery" in the third and sixth paragraphs. Specifically, the following sentence created the most confusion: "The most important part of our update was that all Stage II vapor recovery systems still operating in NJ must be decommissioned by December 23, 2020." This has led some to question if a station utilizing a Stage II balance vapor recovery system must also be decommissioned by December 23, 2020.
As cited in the DEP Advisory we linked to in all our updates, the answer is NO. Anyone operating a Stage II balance vapor recovery system (also known as a "vapor balance" system) does not have to decommission their site by the deadline. The DEP Advisory only speaks to Stage II vacuum assist vapor recovery systems, which must be decommissioned.
NJGCA reached out to our contacts at DEP to confirm this information. Our apologies for this confusion. Though we identified "vacuum assist" at the beginning of our piece, we should have continued to use the full term throughout the piece. That said, this oversight has enabled us to speak with NJDEP candidly about their enforcement efforts on existing Stage II vapor balance systems - and we thought to pass along this information to our members. What we learned is that while there is no mandate to decommission Stage II balance vapor recovery systems, DEP will continue to enforce compliance violations as they always have. This is important to note because, according to our contacts at DEP, the number of suppliers offering replacement parts has dwindled to one company. Previously suppliers such as OPW and Husky offered such replacement parts. DEP has informed us that presently, only Emco Wheaton is actively selling parts. This can mean replacing torn faceplates and other components may not only become harder to procure, but that any fines (which can amount to hundreds of dollars a day, per violation, PER HOSE), may ultimately become expensive to keep in compliance.
Though the Advisory mandates decommissioning speaks only to Stage II vacuum assist vapor recovery systems, DEP's candid insight may affect how small business owners view keeping their Stage II vapor balance systems operating. If parts become scarce and potential fines for non-compliance become cost prohibitive, members should evaluate whether to decommission even their vapor balance systems.  Please contact the MBPs listed in our brochure to have a candid conversation about decommissioning balance vapor systems.  I am sure they will be happy to give you a quote and perform the work for you.
In case you missed it, New Perspectives hosted me on their show on October 7th to talk about the gas tax increase. As a result of the COVID pandemic, there are less commuters on the road buying less gas and not needing as many repairs or work done to their cars, and less product being sold in the convenience store. If fewer people are buying gas and driving, revenue goals will not be met through this tax. I made the connection about not permitting motorists to pump their own gas, and paying a lower price with the loss of volume to neighboring states. You can watch my interview HERE
This affects the future of both gasoline retailers and auto repair shops.  The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a 200 page report about the state's climate change emissions. It says the State needs to make dramatic changes in order to meet the goals it has set for itself to reduce these emissions. Across the board, it is vague on what actual actions the State should take, and even more vague on the costs of those actions. Of chief interest to our members, it says that by 2030 88% of all new passenger vehicles will need to be electric (battery or hydrogen), rising to 100% in 2035. Currently, about 1.6% of new vehicles are EVs. In terms of how to get to these goals, the report focuses on calling for the State to create stronger incentives for motorists to choose EVs, as well as a more comprehensive buildout of charging infrastructure. It does not (despite a few inaccurate news reports) call for a ban on the sale of new gasoline powered vehicles, as California's Governor has called for. However, this report does potentially lay the groundwork for Governor Murphy and environmentalists to call for a ban in the future, perhaps if he is reelected next November. We will be monitoring that closely.
This report also called for the effective elimination of natural gas in the next 30 years, including to heat homes and businesses and to cook with. 87% of residential buildings and 82% of commercial spaces use natural gas, and getting all current structures converted seems...difficult to put it mildly. About 10% of NJ residences rely on heating oil or propane for heat, and the report says the DEP should start moving to get all of them converted to electric by the end of the decade, starting next year. If the state were to follow through on this electrification for buildings and transportation, it would essentially double the amount of electricity consumed by the state by 2050. Currently, about half of our power is generated by natural gas plants, with most of the rest coming from nuclear power. The report wants all of this new power, and all of the power from natural gas to come from off-shore wind and a huge increase in solar usage. These shifts could have potentially significant costs for all businesses who cannot afford paying significantly higher power bills and potentially costly mandates to convert to electric heating. NJGCA has for years been working with other business organizations to monitor these developments and make sure the Legislature, DEP, BPU, and others are aware that small businesses cannot afford higher costs.
If you'd like, you can download the full report here:
Be Well -  
Sal Risalvato
Executive Director




  Training Class Schedule  

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

Contact Nick De Palma at Nick@njgca.org to inquire on additional class dates



  News Around The State  

New York Re-Starts Plastic Bag Ban Enforcement
In New York, the statewide ban on single-use plastic bags is once again being enforced, CBS News reports. In March, a court challenge had halted the new ban, but as of Monday, it's once more in effect. The ban applies to groceries and other store products which can be put into non-plastic bags, but prepared foods, uncooked meat/fish, produce, dry cleaning and prescription drugs can still go in single-use plastic bags. Many retailers, including Whole Foods, switched to paper bags a while ago. New York approved the ban in 2019, and it briefly went into effect earlier this year before a judge halted enforcement after legal challenges were filed. Now, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation is asking consumers for assistance in enforcing the ban. A form and phone number listed on the department's website provide a way for consumers to report ban violations.

Small Parties, Family Gatherings Driving Up Covid-19 Case Count
Gov. Phil Murphy and state public health officials are concerned about a rapid rise in new COVID-19 cases in New Jersey - where daily diagnoses are now at levels not seen since late May - but said the problem is to some degree beyond their control. Despite the reopening of schools, restaurants and other businesses in recent months, and an outbreak linked to the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood, state officials said Monday that much of the coronavirus spread they now see is fueled by small, private house parties and family gatherings. "While these numbers are a far cry from where we were at our spring peaks, they are also significantly higher than where we were for much of the summer and until just a few weeks ago," Murphy said at his regular media briefing Monday. "The capacities that we believe are contributing to the bulk of the (new) cases are those gatherings that are beyond our ability to regulate and properly enforce," he said.

Only Electric Cars Sold By 2035? Here's How N.J. Gets There
In an effort to mitigate the long-term impacts of climate change, Gov. Phil Murphy is pushing New Jersey towards a carbon-free future. For that to happen, gas and diesel cars have to go. The transportation sector is New Jersey's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Currently, about 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in the Garden State are estimated to come from trucks, cars, planes, buses, trains and ships. In a new report published last week by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Murphy administration has recommended that by 2035, all new cars, SUVs and light trucks sold in the state be zero-emission vehicles. The DEP's new recommendation is currently non-binding, but it would surpass two targets already set by state law: To have 330,000 electric cars registered in New Jersey by 2025, and 2 million registered by 2035. For comparison, more than 6.3 million cars and light trucks were registered in New Jersey at the end of last year.

Rising COVID Case Totals Could Hinder Plans For New Jersey's Economic Reopening
New Jersey's grip on containing Covid-19 has started to loosen. While the daily drumbeat of case totals, spot positivity rates and hospitalizations are hardly as grim as they were in the spring when New Jersey was losing hundreds of residents each day to the disease, Gov. Phil Murphy and administration officials nonetheless are facing impossible decisions on how to move forward with the state's economic recovery amid worsening public health data. . . Monday's report comes on the heels of the state Department of Health disclosing more than 2,200 new cases over the weekend. The number of residents being treated for confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 climbed above 700 almost a week ago and appears to still be rising. Those are troubling signs for a state that's lost an estimated 16,214 residents to the virus. And it's a dangerous trend for Murphy who, as recently as mid-September, was typically reporting just 300 to 400 new cases each day.

New Jersey Small Businesses Struggling More Than Most Of Country, Business Association Says
While a recent national survey indicated some positive strides for U.S. small businesses, the sentiment is not widespread in New Jersey, according to a local business community official. In its September jobs report, the National Federation of Independent Business indicated 10 percent of small business owners have increased staffing as consumer demand has followed suit. Across the country, 23 percent of respondents indicated plans of increasing jobs in the next three months. "Small employers are taking every step they can to keep their businesses open and employees on staff," NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg said in a statement in response to the results. "COVID-19 restrictions and regulations put on small businesses vary by state, but we are starting to see a jobs recovery as small businesses continue to increase business operations." But in New Jersey, where pandemic-related closures and restrictions have lingered for more than half a year, "Things aren't pretty," said Eileen Kean, state director of the NFIB.

No Gas-Powered Cars, No Heating Oil For Homes. Climate Report Calls For Major Action
New Jersey has met a short-term goal of trimming carbon emissions but must make radical changes to transportation, electric generation, construction and industry if it is to achieve a much bigger reduction by the middle of the century, the Department of Environmental Protection said Thursday. In a report on progress toward a legal requirement of cutting emissions by 80% from 2006 levels by 2050, the DEP called for "steep and permanent" reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions within the "next several years." Unless the state puts itself on a path to rapidly phase out fossil fuels and adopt renewables on a wide scale, its people will see the increasing effects of climate change including sea-level rise, increases in temperature and precipitation, chronic flooding, bigger storms and longer droughts, the "80×50" report said.



  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.


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  Classifieds: For Sale and Help Wanted Ads  

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