PMAA Becomes EMA: Energy Marketers of America

Energy Marketers of America is the new name of the Petroleum Marketers Association of America. Rob Underwood, president of the association, talked with columnist Shane Sweet, who filed this report.

The name change is “reflective of the group’s growing portfolio of affordable, efficient, and environmentally friendly liquid fuels and other alternative energy sources that are helping to reduce emissions while propelling Americans forward,” Underwood said. The group had operated under the PMAA moniker since 1984, before which it had been known as National Oil Jobbers Council (NOJC).

The renaming of PMAA follows years of name changes, rebranding and mergers among fuel associations across the U.S. as they respond to the changing industry and landscape.

Underwood, who replaced retiring PMAA President Dan Gilligan in 2015, chatted with me about the change in mid-October. Underwood began at PMAA in 2007 and was tapped for the leadership role following a national search. Underwood is a native Virginian and worked on Capitol Hill before coming to PMAA.

Underwood says that liquid fuels have played a critical role in lowering emissions over the past half century and innovation and technological advancement will continue to reduce emissions further in the coming decades. Investments in cleaner liquid fuels helped reduce U.S. air emissions even as total miles driven nearly tripled between 1970 and 2016. Innovative technologies promise liquid fuels a part in a lower-emission future for decades to come, EMA says.

“Liquid fuels are and will continue to be a crucial driver of economic growth in this county and a catalyst for affordable transportation and heating fuels,” Underwood said.

I became familiar with PMAA in the 1990s when I was the executive for the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association (www.vermontfuel.com) and eventually brought VFDA into PMAA as an official — dues-paying — member. At the time PMAA was ahead of the curve in terms of communicating the scope and breadth of its work to fuel marketer associations in the U.S., and I wanted Vermont to be more “wired in” to the larger effort.  Looking back, it was a smart move and VFDA remains with PMAA to this day.

EMA boasts 47 state and regional associations as members of its federation and its affiliated member marketers own and operate 60,000 fuel stations across the U.S. Member companies also sell heating fuel to more than 5 million homes and businesses and this, in turn, equates to thousands of jobs.

Underwood said that though “much progress” has already been made, EMA stands by the idea that addressing improvements in fuel efficiency — as well as the carbon value of the fuel — will yield significant gains for the environment. Policies and funding to reduce carbon emissions should be spread over all carbon sources and be applied to all fuels and energy sources equally, he said, adding that EMA opposes policies that promote one technology only.

EMA supports research and funding to reduce carbon emissions associated with liquid fuels. Such efforts should be given the same priority as research and funding for other energy sources, including electricity, the association says.

EMA says about 98% of vehicles sold in 2019 rely on liquid fuels, and it opposes lawmakers’ and regulatory officials’ attempts to give electrification an “unfair advantage.” EMA also supports policies and programs to allow the oil heat industry to provide more efficient and reliable heat and hot water to consumers.

“Lawmakers should consider a technology-neutral approach when it comes to promoting policies that reduce emissions,” Underwood said. “The most cost-effective way to reduce emissions from transportation is to support technologies that do so for the vast majority of vehicles on the road.”

The name change was announced on Oct. 9. “Because of the wide variety of energy sources our members supply, our board determined this name change is more reflective of the products we serve and is long overdue,” Underwood said. “The fact is liquid fuels are part of the solution when it comes to emissions reductions.”

Shane Sweet is principal of Shane Sweet LLC, a Vermont-based energy products, services and trade association consultancy. The firm provides contract services to companies and organizations connected with the energy industry, including propane, heating oil and motor fuel sectors. Sweet can be reached at shane.sweet@shanesweetLLC.org or 802-558-6101 cell-text.

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