To aid in the effort to bring supplies and fuel to the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the State of Texas have temporarily suspended several trucking regulations.
FMCSA announced on Sept. 1 that due to an expected shortage of fuel products, including gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, propane and home heating oil, "due to refinery delays and interruption of delivery through pipelines as a result of damage from Tropical Storm Harvey," it has declared a regional emergency declaration for 26 States and the District of Columbia. "Motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency transporting fuel products into and from these States and jurisdictions are granted emergency relief from Title 49 CFR Parts 390 through 399," the agency stated.
The suspended regulations include those concerned with driver hours of service, inspection, repair, and maintenance, hazardous materials transportation, driving, and parking, and other health and safety standards.
Texas Governor Greg Abbot (R) has issued a temporary waiver of the International Fuel Tax Agreement, suspending requirements that trucking firms track and pay tax on the amount of fuel used in Texas when delivering relief supplies and fuel into the state. The suspension is aimed at speeding up the movement of needed relief supplies and fuel into the state and immediately reducing the cost and administrative burden.
"As Texas begins the recovery process in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it is important that Texans have access to much-needed resources, including gasoline and fuel." said Gov. Abbott. "Texans should rest assured that their state government is doing every possible to ensure the accessibility and affordability of the necessities allowing us to focus on the process of rebuilding together after this storm."
In other news, the Port of Houston, an important economic driver in the region, is already being reopened after having been mostly spared flood damage, according to a report in Quartz. The port is the top U.S. port for fuel exports. With it reopened, ships that have been anchored offshore will be able to offload goods and take on new freight.