Federal transportation officials have declared a state of emergency relaxing hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers in 26 states to help expedite the overland shipment of fuel in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made the announcement August 31 in response to “fuel shortages due to refinery delays and interruption of delivery through pipelines as a result of damage from Tropical Storm Harvey.”
The storm dropped a record amount of rainfall in Houston and other parts of coastal Texas and Louisiana, resulting in the loss of power to major U.S. oil refineries, including Motiva, the largest U.S. refinery, and pipelines.
Last week, Colonial Pipeline, owner of the main oil and gas arteries in the eastern U.S., said that it was suspending operations in its 100-million-gallons-a-day pipeline that distributes gasoline, jet fuel, heating oil, diesel, and other fuels between Houston and New York City. The shutdown instantly led to fuel shortages and higher prices throughout much of the country.
The shortages “create a need for immediate transportation of fuel products” into and from the affected states, the FMCSA said.
The FMCSA said that the emergency declaration suspends Parts 390-399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which loosen safety rules for longer combination vehicles and hours-of-service rules, which regulate the hours of driving and rest for commercial drivers to prevent fatigue.
The states included the FMCSA’s declaration are: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.
The order remains in effect the duration of the emergency or until Sept. 30, whichever comes first.