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FMCSA declares regional emergency in response to pipeline shutdown

Agency issues temporary relief from specific FMCSRs, including HOS rules

Posted May 11, 2021

The unanticipated shutdown of the Colonial pipeline system due to network issues prompted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to issue a Regional Emergency Declaration to support relief efforts related to supply shortages.

Regional Field Administrators for FMCSA’s Eastern, Southern, and Western Service Centers declared an emergency and an exemption from Parts 390 to 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for those providing direct assistance in the affected states.

The declaration was effective May 9, 2021, and remains in effect until the end of the emergency or until 11:59 P.M. (ET), June 8, 2021, whichever is earlier. FMCSA will continually review the status of the Emergency Declaration and may take action to modify or terminate the Emergency Declaration sooner if conditions warrant.

What are relief efforts?

Direct support of relief efforts for this specific emergency involves the transportation of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products into the affected states from shortages due to the shutdown, partial shutdown, and/or manual operation of the Colonial pipeline system.

Which states are affected?

FMCSA is issuing the temporary exemption to those transporting fuel and other refined petroleum products to Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

When does a driver no longer qualify for the exemption?

Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services not in support of emergency relief efforts.

Upon termination of direct assistance to emergency relief efforts, the motor carrier and driver are subject to the requirements of Parts 390 through 399, except that a driver may return empty to the motor carrier’s terminal or the driver’s normal work reporting location without complying with Parts 390 through 399.

When a driver is moving from emergency relief efforts to normal operations, a 10-hour break is required when the total time a driver operates conducting emergency relief efforts, or a combination of emergency relief and normal operation, equals 14 hours.

What regulations are not covered by the emergency declaration?

All other applicable safety requirements remain in place and will be enforced by the FMCSA, including DOT drug and alcohol testing (Part 382), commercial driver’s license requirements (Part 383), financial responsibility (insurance) requirements (Part 387), hazardous material regulations (Parts 100-180), applicable size and weight requirements, and any other portion of the regulations not specifically authorized in §390.23.

This article was written by Kathy Close of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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