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February 17, 2022
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  









As gas prices are continuing to rise, we tracked that on Monday the average rack price hit another high, the highest since Sept 2014 at $2.72 a gallon WILL before taxes ($3.33 with tax), although prices fell nearly 10 cents on Tuesday. The price of oil went over $95 a barrel at that time. One of the key things driving the situation is the threat of Russian invasion in Ukraine and the sanctions and instability that would result from that. On Monday Moscow said they would pull back some of their forces and focus on diplomacy, but NATO officials say they don't believe them and there are no indications of withdrawal, and in fact may have increased their troops. When they said they would pull back it was likely responsible for the short drop in prices, speculators in the oil trade market may have already priced in at least some of the costs of a conflict. If tensions were relieved somehow, it would probably result in a lowering of prices. 

On the other hand, Russia produces about 10% of the world's oil and some analysts fear that if Russia were to invade prices could hit $120 a barrel. Another thing to watch out for if war starts is that Russia is a major supplier of a variety of raw materials, including the world's biggest supplier of palladium, which is used to make catalytic converters. So a Russian invasion could also reduce supply of converters and new cars overall. We will see what happens in the coming weeks. 

It's also worth noting that while these are the highest prices we've seen since 2014, they are still not the highest prices overall that we have seen. Average rack prices without taxes have been as high as $3.50 a gallon for brief periods in May 2011 and June 2008. This does mean there's plenty of room for prices to increase even more from the current $2.70 average that we are seeing now. 


In response to high gas prices there has also been discussion in Congress of legislation that would suspend the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents a gallon for calendar year 2022. It was introduced by several Senate democrats in competitive races this year and President Biden is at least open to the idea which gives it at least some chance of passing at some point. We will be monitoring this news. It's basically the only thing that the federal government could do to lower prices immediately. Other solutions like promoting more drilling would not see returns for years to come. 


A quick note to our Emission Repair Technicians (ERTs) and Emission Repair Facilities (ERFs) members that we've been hearing anecdotal feedback from fellow members detailing recent enforcement actions. As longtime members know, we've written about changes in the ETEP program (and the accreditation process to become an ERT) going back to at least 2019.  All along, we've sent updates in our weekly Road Warrior e-newsletter, our quarterly On The Road publication, as well as ad hoc communications when necessary. In fact, for months now, we've run a synopsis of the above in our Training Class Schedule section of our weekly Road Warrior. 

In the last two weeks we've heard from some members who let their ERT credentials lapse at the end of December.  Since the beginning of February, it appears state officials have been making the rounds and have issued some warnings to those affected.

You may be one of those members who has been visited and need to re-new your license. Or you may be due to get a visit from state officials soon; especially if you know for sure that your license lapsed in December. Either way, we're updating you so you're not caught off guard if someone stops by your shop.

Since last summer, NJGCA has offered an ASE-prep class to help technicians re-certify to the ETEP program. However, unlike our two-day INL/NJ Emission Inspector Class, our ASE-prep is a ten-session commitment that involves additional logistics. 

If you need to re-new your ERT credentials, we can help -- but we have to hear from you first.  Contact us at training@njgca.org to be added to the list of interested technicians and see an expanded synopsis in our Training Class Schedule, below.


You should be aware right now that you and your employees can't kick out an official service dog should they enter your business. A state Assembly committee approved a bill on Monday that would require employers in New Jersey to train their workers on the legal rights of people with disabilities who rely on service dogs. The bill if signed into law would require the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development to create a pamphlet for employers and employees must sign a form acknowledging they read the pamphlet. Additionally, the bill would require the Division on Civil Rights and the New Jersey State Bar Association to develop a training program at no cost to employers. This bill came in response to an incident nearly ten years ago when an employee at a deli forced a blind man to leave because his dog wasn't allowed. 


The polling group Morning Consult released some data on US motorists and their attitudes towards getting car repairs at independent shops or dealerships. Of those who got their vehicle serviced in the last month, roughly equal numbers went to the dealership as to the independent shop. As you might expect, those going to the dealership were unlikely to be concerned about price, but were concerned about the availability of certified technicians. Price was the driving factor for customers at independent shops, as well as convenient locations and trust in the provider also having an impact. The analysts advise "Independent repair shops and service centers should leverage dealerships' approaches to keeping customers loyal through measures such as certifying and upskilling their mechanics, and backing their products and services through money-back guarantees so they don't have to compete solely on price." You can read their full summary HERE.  

Be Well -  

Sal Risalvato
Executive Director



  Training Class Schedule  

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


ASE Training Course - Reach Out Today!

Are you (or an employee) getting ready to take your A6, A8, or L1 in preparation to recertifying your Emission Repair Technician (ERT) credentials through the State's Emission Technician Education Program (ETEP)?  

We can help --- but we need to hear from you, first! 
NJGCA wants to hear from students interested in our ASE-prep training program, so we can gauge demand and schedule our next session series. 

As you know, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has always maintained a "dual-track" system to allow technicians to earn their Emission Repair Technician (ERT) credentials through New Jersey's Emission Technician Education Program (ETEP). In doing so, technicians were allowed to certify as ERTs through either an ASE-test track or an ETEP-educational class track. Starting on January 1, 2020, NJDEP amended the ETEP criteria, and the ETEP-educational class track was abolished.  

Today, only the ASE-test track remains, and all ERTs must certify or re-certify their credentials though ASE to remain in the Program. 

NJGCA has recently offered an ASE-prep class to help you get ready for the A6, A8, and L1. In doing so, students were welcome to participate in a ten-session preparatory class that covered material for all three ASE exams. We also had a handful of students who joined us only for the A8 or L1 sections.  

Once completed, students took their ASE exams with a local ASE-approved test proctor (NJGCA can train you to prepare for the ASE exams, but are not permitted to offer the actual exam - students must make these arrangements individually themselves). 

Building on that success, we are now seeking student participation in our next training series session. To make arrangements and organize a session, we need to hear from you! 

If you are interested, please email us at training@njgca.org ASAP. 

We'll record your interest, inquire on your availability, and schedule a class once we have a full complement of students.   

Only with your feedback can we gauge student headcount and participation.  

Please reach out to us today, and thank you for your interest! 

Contact Nick De Palma at Nick@njgca.org to inquire about potential trainings and class dates



  News Around The State  


Nearly $6 a Gallon? This Could Be the Most Expensive Gas in NJ

AAA Mid-Atlantic says the average price of a gallon of regular gas last week in New Jersey was $3.44, up three cents from a week ago. Drivers were paying an average of $2.57 a gallon a year ago at this time. But $3.44 a gallon is a steal compared to what motorists are paying at the Exxon station on Routes 202/206 in Bedminster, not far from the Trump National Golf Club and the regional Somerset Airport. According to gasbuddy.com the price for a gallon of midgrade gasoline is $5.79 and it's ten cents higher for premium. Diesel costs $4.39 a gallon. 


White House Releases $5 Billion Plan for EV Charging Infrastructure

The Biden Administration has released its plan to fund electric vehicle charging infrastructure, focusing on interstate highways first, and then rural areas at a later date, reports the Wall Street Journal. The administration said the goal of the plan is to give Americans the ability to access public EV charging as easily as it is to find a gas station. The administration will award nearly $5 billion over five years to states so they can build EV chargers along highway corridors. The money was part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed last November and will be distributed among all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, with the biggest allocations to California, Florida and Texas.


Supply Chain Snarls Hit Disposable Cups and Lids

America's crimpled supply chain has a new victim-disposable cups and lids, reports the Wall Street Journal. These to-go items are imported from overseas and are stuck in ports, plus American paper mills are dealing with labor shortages. Additionally, the extreme cold that hit Texas last year suspended resin production, and the U.S. still hasn't caught up. . . One way to combat the shortage is to sell branded, reusable cups that carry a drink discount. Consumers were hesitant to use reusable cups during the pandemic, and some businesses refused to refill them, but now they are an option again. Plastic cups are also in short supply, with the Plastics Industry Association saying labor troubles have hampered plastics plants. Shortages of both labor and inputs have pushed prices for plastic packaging products 24% higher from a year ago, federal data show. The industry forecasts a 3.1% increase in the output of plastic products, including cups.


Ten Years in NJ Property Taxes: Rising, But Kept (Somewhat) In Check

It was around this time a decade ago that New Jersey was just starting to see the effects of a brand-new cap on local property-tax increases. Already known for having high property taxes, increases had been topping 5% annually, on average, for roughly a decade. In response, state officials agreed to a 2% annual limit across New Jersey. After the cap was in effect for its first full year, the state reported in early 2012 that the annual growth rate for the average property-tax bill had nearly been cut in half. . . The 2% cap on annual levy hikes replaced a weaker, 4% limit in place up until that point. Importantly, local governments could only go over the new, lower ceiling under more limited circumstances, or only if voters approved. A similar limit on salary increases won through arbitration by local police and firefighters was also put in place around the same time. Looking back, these bipartisan policy changes and others roughly a decade ago appear to have been a major turning point for property owners across the state.  


NJ Gas Prices Shot Up On Valentine's Day: Here's How Much

Gas prices continue to rise across the nation. In the Garden State, they recently brought some unwelcomed Valentine's Day news, according to AAA, which tracks gas prices nationwide. New Jersey gas prices averaged $3.59 per gallon Monday - 9 cents more than last week, 22 cents higher than a month ago and 93 cents more than Valentine's Day in 2021. The national average price for a gallon of gas rose four cents this week to $3.48. Although filling up has gotten pricier in New Jersey, the state is still faring slightly better than neighbors New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, according to AAA.


What a Russian Invasion of Ukraine Would Mean For the Global Economy

Russia announced a partial pullback in Ukraine today, but the crisis is far from over. Why it matters: If there was a Russian invasion, there would not only be geopolitical shockwaves and human tragedy, but it also could upend markets and strain the global economy. The largest country on earth by land mass, Russia is a commodities giant, ranking as a top producer of natural gas, oil, nickel, palladium, copper, coal, potash, wheat and more. Disruptions to Russian exports - either at Russian President Vladimir Putin's say-so or due to sanctions - would drive up commodity costs, adding to global inflationary pressures and supply chain disarray. Russia is the largest supplier of natural gas and crude to the European Union.


The Kitchen of the Future Won't Be Cooking With Gas

Having already reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by phasing out dirty heating oil and adding renewable energy largely without federal help, dozens of local governments are voting to drive down their carbon footprints by banning natural gas hookups in new buildings altogether. And it's dividing Democrats and putting the party at odds with key allies. . . Commercial and residential buildings represent 13 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, making them critical vehicles for reining in climate change even if new rules don't address existing structures. But just as the campaign to force developers to swear off natural gas has started to gain its footing, it's beginning to feel its political limits: There is no federal building energy code, and while climate activists have found success in deep-blue cities like New York, Seattle and San Francisco, they've struggled with statewide adoption.


New York, New Jersey Delay Unemployment-Loan Payback in Hit to Businesses

New York, New Jersey and several other U.S. states are delaying repayment of $40 billion in federal pandemic unemployment loans, saddling businesses with higher payroll costs instead. Ten states that took advances from the federal government when Covid-related job losses soared, including California and Illinois, are now piling up interest of $327.8 million and counting. The delays are burdening businesses and employees with greater unemployment costs that will continue long after the pandemic is over. It's not that states like New Jersey don't have the cash. An influx of stimulus funds and a surge in tax receipts as the economy rebounds are helping pad state budgets. Almost half of all U.S. states have expanded their taxable wage bases since 2020. Roughly $90 billion of states' Covid aid remains unallocated as of November, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. But some states say they've used the money on more immediate Covid-related expenses and other priorities.



  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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