Ongoing Fuel Shortages Prompt FMCSA to Extend Emergency Declaration in 6 States
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is extending an Emergency Declaration for six states due to reports of ongoing fuel shortages and damage caused by extreme winter weather.
On Friday, the FMCSA extended the suspension of certain Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) including federal hours of service (HOS) rules for motor carriers directly engaged in relief efforts to Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
“The emergency conditions caused by winter storm damage and heating and other fuel shortages in these six States have not abated,” the Agency informed.
Last month, in response to brutal winter storms that led to widespread fuel shortages, the FMCSA issued an Emergency Declaration for 33 states and the District of Columbia.
“This Declaration addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of persons, supplies, goods, equipment, heating fuels, including propane, natural gas, and heating oil, and other fuel products, including gasoline, and provides necessary relief,” the Agency said at the time.
The epicenter of the disaster was in Texas as millions were severely impacted.
Widespread power and fuel outages were reported across the state as wind turbines froze up and electrical issues forced oil refineries to shut down for days.
Thousands of truckers were stranded because they either refused to travel in the dangerous conditions or simply couldn’t get fuel.
Scores of truck stops were either out of fuel or low on supply.
Scott Devine, a Texas fuel hauler contracted with one of the largest truck stop chains told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) that for about a week it would take him his entire shift just to get a full load of fuel to deliver due to rationing.
“They would send me to one location and I would get there and they would tell me ‘no, it’s out,’” he said. “Basically they allocate so much for Love’s and Pilot, and all the different ones who do fuel delivery. They allocated about 30 percent of what we normally get. It dries up really quick.”
“Needless to say, we are not equipped from a transportation standpoint to deal with those kinds of issues,” Paul Hardin, president and CEO of the Texas Food and Fuel Association, recently told TNN. “Those [trucks] that could get out were focused on hospitals and first responders, once carriers deemed it safe enough, but there was a lot of catch up.”
Each of the major truck stop chains have since reported a return to normal levels of fuel inventories, but the FMCSA’s Emergency Declaration extension should continue to help ease distribution efforts for the time being.
The Agency said the Declaration will remain in place until the end of the emergency or until March 19, whichever is sooner.
Photo courtesy Scott Devine