Gas Industry Laws
This page is a compilation of the need-to-know industry laws. Please note that this list does not encompass every industry law, but rather a short list of the laws that may affect you and your business the most.
Table of Contents
- Anti-Trust Laws – regarding pricing, trade, bundling and advertisement
- Price Gouging – regarding pricing during states of emergency
- Dyed Diesel Notification Requirement – regarding posting notice of dyed diesel to notify customers
- UST/AST Regulations – regarding testing for storage tanks
- Tobacco and Synthetic Drug Laws – regarding stocking of, sales and brand requirements of tobacco and synthetic drugs
- Anti Skimming Laws – New laws in Florida regarding gas stations using security labels at the pump to prevent skimmers
- Motor Fuel Price Posting – Law in place since 2015 stating cash/credit pricing notifications must be 1/2 the size of largest gas price posted
Antitrust law is a complex area of federal and state statutory law, the primary purpose of which is to prevent businesses from creating unjust monopolies or competing unfairly in the marketplace. Antitrust law seeks to maximize market efficiency and to protect consumers. Many specific actions are covered by these laws, including pricing policy, terms of trade, customer and territory selection, bundling of services, advertising and sales technology, and mergers and acquisitions. An experienced antitrust attorney who stays abreast of current developments in this area should be able to advise businesses on how to avoid antitrust problems. Read more about this law and the consequences you could face if found breaking this law.
Price Gouging Laws
Florida Statute 501.160 states that during a state of emergency, it is unlawful to sell, lease, offer to sell, or offer for lease essential commodities, dwelling units, or self-storage facilities for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency, unless the seller can justify the price by showing increases in its prices or market trends. Examples of necessary commodities are food, ice, gas, and lumber.
Dyed Diesel Notification Requirement
Did you know that fuel dealers must notify their customers about the proper use of dyed diesel fuel? Although Florida law instructs fuel dealers to follow specific notification requirements, some dealers may be unaware of their responsibility. The seller must post a notice on any retail pump where dyed diesel fuel is dispensed. The notice should be affixed to the face of the pump in a conspicuous place within easy sight of the person dispensing the dyed diesel fuel. Additionally, a notice must be included on all shipping papers, bills of lading, and invoices accompanying the sale or removal of dyed diesel fuel. This notice must be on these documents provided by a terminal operator to any person receiving dyed fuel at the operator’s terminal rack; or by any seller of dyed diesel fuel to a buyer if the diesel fuel is located outside the bulk transfer/terminal system. The notice must be clearly stated and include the following language:
Dyed Diesel Fuel for Nontaxable Use Only PENALTY FOR TAXABLE USE During routine audits, the Florida Department of Revenue occasionally finds instances where the notice has not been included on the appropriate documentation. A seller who does not provide the required notice is presumed to know the diesel fuel will be used for a taxable use and may be subject to a penalty of $10 per gallon of diesel fuel sold without proper notice, or $1,000 multiplied by the total number of violations, whichever is greater. Sellers of dyed diesel fuel are also subject to the same penalty provisions for every gallon of dyed diesel fuel held for sale at the time of the violation if the sale is made from a retail pump. It’s easy to avoid potential penalties by simply making sure the required notice is included on all invoices, shipping papers, bills of lading, and retail pumps. Please note: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has similar notice requirements and may assess additional penalties according to federal law. For more information, please contact the Department of Revenue at 850-352-6371.
UST/AST Regulation Changes
As of January 11, 2017, new tank system rules will go into effect as per the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Here is a brief summary of some of the changes as we understand them. You may also download a copy of the new rules and some AST and UST guidance sheets for owners/operators created by the FDEP.
- Breach of integrity (BOI) testing on the tanks will no longer be required to be performed every 5 years. BOI testing will be required at the time of installation and after a repair. It may be required in response to a positive response such as water or fuel in an interstitial space. Tanks that are under violation before 1/11/17 for needing a breach of integrity test still need to complete the test.
- Tank Tech lined tanks will still require the 2 year breach test in accordance to their EQ number. Their testing requirement is not linked to the rules.
- Single wall spill buckets must be tested between 1/11/17 and 1/11/18 and then annually thereafter.
- Prior to 10/13/2018 all dispenser liners and STP sumps must be tested and every three years thereafter.
- Visual inspections still must occur monthly not to exceed 35 days.
- Leak detectors and all other release detection devices (ATGs vac gauges, visi gauges etc) must still be tested annually at intervals not to exceed 12 months.
- Storage tanks that store fuel for use by generators must now meet the same release detector requirements of rule 62-761 or 762.
There is a new section for “incidents” that we are still reviewing, and will post more information at a later date. We will also find out more about overfill protection. Apparently overfill protection devices have to be tested annually as well. e. Overfill devices shall be registered in accordance with subsection 62-761.850(2), F.A.C., and an operability test shall be performed annually at intervals not exceeding 12 months to ensure proper operation. Lastly, there are questions about who can perform what tests. For example, it might seem easy to hydro test a spill bucket and an operator may think that she or he can do it. They may think that they can put water in the bucket and watch if for a period of time and be done. However, the test typically involves removing the drop tube and isolating the bucket below the drain. We will find out if the specified time frames for the hydro testing and post once we know more.
Tobacco and Synthetic Drug Laws
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act) became law on June 22, 2009.
It gives the FDA the authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products to protect public health.
FDA recognizes that virtually all new users of tobacco products are under 18 years old. Many new users will become addicted before they are old enough to understand the risks and ultimately will die too young of tobacco-related diseases.
In addition, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has added some of the compounds used in making “bath salts” and other synthetic drugs to the federally-controlled drug schedule as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.
PLEASE NOTE that the sale of synthetic drugs (products that are designed to mimic the effects of marijuana, amphetamines, and other illegal drugs) are themselves illegal. Therefore, the possession, distribution, sale and use of these synthetic stimulants are a violation of federal law and, in many cases, state law as well.
According to the DEA, these products are sold at a variety of retail outlets including service stations under brands such as “Ivory Wave”, “Purple Wave”, “Vanilla Sky”, “Bliss”, ”Spice”, “K2”, “Blaze”, “Red X Dawn” and other names, and are usually labeled as incense or other legal products to mask their intended purpose. These substances have been shown to have harmful physical effects in those who take them.
Both your supply contract with Southeast Petro and the Petroleum Marketing Practice Act (“PMPA”) require you to comply with all federal, state and local laws. In addition, your supply contract with Southeast Petro requires you to comply with your concurrent brand’s image standards. All branded sites are prohibited from displaying, using, storing, offering or selling illegal drugs, OR synthetic drugs produced to mimic illegal drugs, (including, but not limited to cannabinoids), or items that are intended or designed for use in ingesting, inhaling or otherwise consuming like an illegal drug.
In addition to the synthetic drugs themselves, prohibited items include, but not be limited to, pipes, tubes, roach clips, instructions or descriptive materials, or containers for concealing illegal drugs or paraphernalia. We would appreciate your diligence in ensuring that all of your sites are periodically checked so that locations meet all contractual obligations including, but not limited to, prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors and the sale of synthetic drugs.
Please join us in preventing sales of tobacco to minors, and the sale of synthetic drugs, at the retail sites you operate under the Southeast Petro family of brands. Southeast Petro is under the same federal mandate to prevent the sale of tobacco to minors. Moreover, the sale of synthetic drugs is receiving increasing scrutiny from law enforcement officials at the state and federal levels. Failure to abide by the terms of your agreements with Southeast Petro concerning the sale of tobacco to minors, the sale of synthetic drugs and drug paraphernalia, and compliance with laws in general, may result in loss of the privilege to operate under your current brand at a non-complying site and termination of your agreement with Southeast Petro.
A new law in the State of Florida went into effect October 1, 2016. The law requires self-service fuel dispensers to have certain security measures to prevent theft of consumer’s financial information (See specifics below). In an attempt to avoid dispenser shut downs or state issued fines, we would recommending the following site retailer actions;
- Change Out Dispenser locks for Unique Key Dispenser Locks (Suggested Vendor: Tubar Lock 864-297-6655)
- For visual identity and security, use Branded Security Seals on dispenser on all internal accessible doors (View our skimming information page for ordering information)
- Check for Skimming devices inside dispensers daily and keep a daily log with the information of when the dispenser was checked.
Download the Security Document from the State of Florida. Also download a four page form used by the Florida Bureau of Standard which outlines what they are looking for when visiting a fueling site. Specifically, the new law:
- Requires self-service fuel dispensers to use certain security measures to prevent theft of consumer financial information;
- Increases enforcement authority against those who possess or traffic fraudulent credit cards;
- Reclassifies the crime of unlawful conveyance of fuel, which increases the maximum sentence; and
- Increases the offense level of the crime, which affects the sentencing guidelines.
In addition to routinely checking pumps for skimmers, the department has worked to protect consumers by partnering with the Florida Petroleum Council and the Florida Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association earlier this year on an initiative intended to educate the industry about ways they can help protect consumers from skimmers. The council and association have distributed a one-page informational sheet to their members with helpful information, such as “what to know,” “how to help,” and “who to call,” in order to engage gas station employees in this consumer protection initiative.
Motor Fuel Price Posting
(1) Any roadside or other sign, including, but not limited to, prices on poles, monument signs, canopies, ‘A-frame’ signs or other structures, that advertises or displays motor fuel prices and is not connected to a retail motor fuel dispenser as covered in Rule 5J-21.007, F.A.C. must display:
(a) The undiscounted price per gallon for any motor fuel product and applicable grade advertised or displayed on the sign; or
(b) The discounted price per gallon for any motor fuel product and applicable grade advertised or displayed on the sign along with the conditions under which the discount is available, including, but not limited to, “Cash,” “Cash Only,” or “Membership.” The discount conditions must be clearly presented on the sign in a font no less than one-half the size of the largest number posted on the sign and may not be abbreviated. The discount conditions must appear immediately next to, above or below the discounted price and with equal illumination as the discounted price.
(2) All motor fuel prices displayed on the sign must include all applicable taxes and fees.
(3) A business is not required to have a roadside sign nor advertise or display motor fuel prices for all products or grades stored or offered for sale at the retail station, except as required in Rule 5J-21.007, F.A.C.
(4) Failure to comply with the provisions of this rule constitutes a violation of Section 531.44, F.S.
Rulemaking Authority 526.09, 531.41(3), 570.07(23) FS. Law Implemented 526.01, 531.44 FS. History‒New 5-25-15.