South Dakota has responded to the issue of a tight market for fuel tanker trucks by extending allowable hours of service for petroleum deliveries until Aug. 16.
Although the declaration is a state override of federal rules, a spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said such an action is legal.
“Governors are able to issue emergency declarations,” Duane DeBruyne, a FMCSA spokesman, said in an email to FreightWaves.
Additionally, a spokesman for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (pictured above), who handed down the executive order and the declaration of an emergency, said federal law allows a governor in declaring a state of emergency to override federal rules for 30 days.
“We consulted with numerous stakeholders before making the decision, including FMCSA, our Department of Public Safety, as well as fuel producers, wholesale distributors and end users,” Ian Fury, a spokesman for Noem, said in an email to FreightWaves.
The suspension of the federal hours-of-service rules covers deliveries of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and ethyl alcohol. In a somewhat vague restriction, South Dakota said that companies “may not require or allow fatigued drivers to make deliveries.”
It also says that a driver who “informs a carrier that he/she needs immediate rest shall be given adequate rest before the driver is required to return to service.”
“The people of South Dakota are faced with extremely low inventories and outages,” Noem said in her executive order, adding that normal supplies are not expected until “early fall.”
Among the areas where driver supply has been tight, deliveries of fuel from tankers have been particularly noted. Spot shortages and station shutdowns have been reported.
However, weekly data from the Department of Energy on supply and demand is not showing a significant downturn in product supplied, the category that represents deliveries. In the first week of July, gasoline deliveries of 10.55 million barrels per day in the U.S. was the highest one-week figure in the history of the data since 2018. The most recent figure, for the report of July 7 covering the prior week, came in at 9.85 million barrels per day. That was only slightly less than the second week in July for recent years but still slightly above 2019.
Most of the other state emergency declarations currently listed by FMCSA are connected either to states affected by Tropical Storm Elsa or by Western wildfires.