Fight for ELD Exemption Sparks New Lawsuit Against “Rogue” FMCSA
Washington D.C. – The Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) is readying a new lawsuit alleging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is once again in violation of federal law.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) first reported on August 12, 2019, the SBTC petitioned the FMCSA for an exemption from the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate on behalf of independent contractors and carriers with fewer than 50 employees.
Under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), the FMCSA must publish it in the Federal Register and make a determination on the application within 180 days from the time it is filed.
However, the Agency failed to do so and has still yet to make a determination.
James Lamb, president of the SBTC, tells TNN the group intends to file suit against the FMCSA in order to compel the Agency to make a determination on the matter.
It’s not the first time the SBTC has filed a lawsuit against the FMCSA over this same issue.
The 15,000-member group filed a similar lawsuit against the Agency in May of 2019.
Lamb accused the FMCSA of a pattern of “blatantly ignoring the law” and “unreasonably delaying” industry’s petitions and applications.
“The SBTC and its predecessor group have now filed five exemption applications with FMCSA over the past decade,” Lamb said. “Each and every time, the agency has failed to act in accordance with a Congressional directive to process these applications within 180 days.”
Lamb provided TNN with a letter sent to the SBTC and dated November 19, 2019, from FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen.
Mullen confirmed the Agency intended to make a determination within the required 180 days.
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Lamb says the SBTC is once again left with “no choice” but to litigate.
“This is a rogue agency that believes Congressional directives are recommendations and they can do whatever they want whenever they want. Frankly, they think they are above the law. It appears a Federal Court will now have to tell them otherwise,” Lamb tells TNN.
Further, Lamb is asking the Office of Inspector general to audit the FMCSA’s handling of petitions in order to recommend improvements and reforms.
SBTC Says ELD Exemption MUST Be Granted
In its application, the SBTC argued the exemption request must be granted because the Agency has failed to show how the mandate has improved public safety.
Specifically, SBTC says the mandate: 1) is not necessary to enforce hours of service (HOS) regulations, 2) nor is it needed to protect shippers from the abuse of market power, and 3) is not in the public interest.
Since its filing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released data from 2018 showing trucker crash deaths have risen to a 30-year high.
Lamb points to the NHTSA’s report as proof the ELD mandate has only made U.S. roadways more dangerous for the motoring public and truckers.
“With a 30-year high in large truck occupant fatalities, the Agency is an absolute disgrace. We have called on Congress to defund FMCSA and create an independent regulatory commission in its place.”
TNN reached out to the FMCSA about this issue and a spokesperson declined to comment.
TNN will continue to follow this story.
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