U.S. Senators John Thune (R-South Dakota), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) sent a letter today to the acting administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Scott Darling, and the administrator of the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Adam Sieminski, calling for an update from both agencies on the implementation of their Reliable Home Heating Act, which was signed into law on June 30, 2014.
The senators write, “With another possible wet harvest, predictions of another record setting winter, and the current rail service challenges that are slowing the delivery of propane to some regions, we want to ensure that the tools provided in the Reliable Home Heating Act are available to governors and other local officials before they are potentially needed… With fall harvest and winter fast approaching, we write today to request an update on implementation of the Reliable Home Heating Act.”
Thune and Klobuchar’s Reliable Home Heating Act includes provisions to allow governors authority to provide relief from motor carrier rules in the event of a declared emergency. The legislation also requires the EIA to provide early warnings to governors if the inventory of residential heating fuel (propane, natural gas, and home heating oil) falls below the most recent five-year average for more than three consecutive weeks.
Previously, the governor of a state could declare a state of emergency due to shortages of home heating fuel, which would provide a 30-day exemption from certain federal regulations for operators of commercial motor vehicles. At the conclusion of these 30 days, the exemptions would expire unless extended by FMCSA or otherwise addressed by a presidential disaster declaration. Thune and Klobuchar’s legislation gives the governor of a state the authority to extend the state of emergency for two additional 30-day periods, for a total of 90 days without FMCSA action.
The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has jurisdiction over the FMCSA, which is a component of the U.S. Department of Transportation.