In the aftermath of hurricane Harvey, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has suspended some regulations. Because of anticipated shortages in some areas, hours of service regulations for truckers hauling gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, propane and other home heating fuels have been suspended. This change will remain in effect until the emergency situation is declared over, or until September 24, whichever comes first.
These suspensions will also apply to those that are providing direct assistance during the emergency in the states of Texas and Louisiana. The decision was made in anticipation of regional shortages of fuel products in the wake of Harvey.
The most significant regulation to be suspended is the one that deals with hours of service. As the name implies it is a safety regulation which specifies the number of hours a truck can be in continuous service without a break. Suspending this will provide more hours devoted to the need for fuel in the stricken areas.
Hurricane Harvey has had a major impact on the area where roughly a third of the entire country’s refineries are located. The severe flooding and other damages in the area has forced the closure of the refineries which has put the country’s fuel supplies in jeopardy.
The states where the new temporary rules apply are mostly in the South East where the fuel shortages are expected to be the worst.
Western states have been mostly unaffected by Harvey and that includes any threat of fuel shortages. Western states are for the most part not reliant on the refineries in Texas as they are supplied by refineries in California which supply most of the west coast and abutting states with fuel.
As hurricane Harvey has becomes history it now remains to be seen how long it will take for the affected infrastructure to recover, and what the long-term effects will be.