RETAILERS READY TO BATTLE CREDIT CARD FEES ON THE HILL

February 24, 2008

This week Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Chris Cannon (R-UT) introduced legislation to address unfair and burdensome credit card interchange fees.  In response to the proposed legislation, the Merchants Payment Coalition (MPC), of which PMAA is a member, issued this statement: “We applaud the legislative efforts by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) and the Senate Judiciary Committee to fix the broken interchange fee market. With about 80 percent market share, Visa and MasterCard operate like price fixing cartels, each monopolist sets ‘take it or leave it’ oppressive credit card interchange fees and rules, and they do so in secret. Their illegal price fixing alone costs our customers more the $350 per household every year, and it is rising. This legislation under consideration would end the practice of anti-competitive rate setting by the credit card industry and give retailers an opportunity to negotiate terms and conditions just as we do with every other business. The only viable alternative to fix this problem is government regulation, which we oppose. 

Retail is all about negotiating to bring value to our customers. Unfortunately, there is no negotiating with the credit card industry.  The proposed legislation would finally bring some competition to this broken market.”

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SENATE COMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON THE EFFECTS OF RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD

February 10, 2008

As you may know, President Bush has pushed for increased production and distribution of ethanol in gasoline. The Senate recently held hearings to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard included in the 2007 Energy Bill.

Senator Bingaman (D-NM), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, raised concerns over the recently passed energy bill, H.R. 6, which drastically increases the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to 36 billion gallons by 2022. The chairman stated that the mandates might be too aggressive and questioned the availability of biofuels to meet the new mandates since cellulosic ethanol plants are just getting started and are not commercially ready for use.

Senator Bingaman was concerned that the EPA would have difficulties implementing rules to achieve the aggressive mandates and stated that technical corrections to the RFS expansion will likely be needed. New regulations have to be in place within one year of the energy bill’s passage, which is going to be extremely hard to accomplish given the circumstances. Charles Drevna, President of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, highlighted to the Committee that all the talk about how ethanol will solve our nation’s dependency on foreign oil is not the final answer. He cited that it costs 13 to 18 cents a gallon to transport ethanol compared to conventional gasoline, which only costs three to five cents.