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Shuster bill extends propane, heating oil HOS exemptions through May 31

The FMCSA has been issuing exemptions for propane and heating fuel trucks this winter, but must renew those every 30 days. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services

3/14/2014

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved and sent to the president legislation by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., that helps provide emergency relief to the ongoing propane and home heating fuels crisis in the United States.

Shuster introduced H.R. 4076, the Home Heating Emergency Assistance Through Transportation (HHEATT) Act of 2014, on Feb. 25 to address transportation and distribution issues that have contributed to this crisis.

“This continues to be a costly and crippling winter for millions of Americans who rely on propane and other fuels to heat their homes,” Shuster said.  “The HHEATT Act, by addressing transportation and distribution issues that have made delivery of these fuels more difficult, will bring some relief to those still feeling the impact of this crisis.”

The cold winter has increased demand for propane, which is used for heating in more than 12 million U.S. households, and for other home heating fuels. Supplies are expected to remain tight through the end of winter because the infrastructure to deliver propane to high-demand areas is insufficient.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, average expenditures for U.S. households that primarily rely on propane for heat are expected to be 54 percent higher this winter.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued temporary emergency declarations to allow tank truck operators delivering propane and other home heating fuels to drive for longer hours to speed up deliveries to the affected states. However, these declarations can only last 30 days at a time, creating uncertainty and limited relief.  The HHEATT Act provides a guaranteed extension of the FMCSA’s short-term emergency declarations until May 31, 2014.

Under the HHEATT Act, should the propane and home heating fuels crisis subside prior to the end of May, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation may determine that the extension of the emergency declarations is no longer needed.  The secretary will make such a determination on a state-by-state basis and in consultation with the governors of affected states.

The HHEATT Act now will be sent to the President to be signed into law.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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