Today’s pickup: There will probably be at least some significant talk on HOS rules in Washington

Good day,

I recently traveled to Washington to speak on behalf of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance at a National Academy of Sciences conference. But I also used the time to also visit with several trucking-related groups and people. These were off-the-record meetings, so I won’t identify those people unlucky enough to have to spend time with me. The one consistent takeaway from the meetings is that there is going to be at least a push, probably in the regulatory arena, to ease some Hours of Service rules. It’s important to note that a regulatory agency like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implements and interprets a law how it wants to, up to a point. A regulatory agency can be sued and usually is any time it changes its guidance on the implementation of a law, but there’s still leeway. The recent clarification on Personal Conveyance is a perfect example, and the general feeling in Washington is that FMCSA actually managed to make most people happy with that shift. Don’t be surprised if FMCSA soon asks for comments on a rule to alter the HOS standards in some way, either through a new rule, different guidance, etc. The most likely target is probably letting the 14-hour clock come to a stop when a driver is in detention. If that driver can climb into the back of a sleeper cab and grab a few hours of shuteye, why should the 14-hour clock continue to run? That’s the question that seems to keep coming up and the one most likely to be addresses. FMCSA administrator Martinez has been doing his listening tour, as he said he would, and at least some sort of action does seem possible.—John Kingston

Did you know?

U.S. shale oil production continues to soar. In March, the last full month for which data is available, U.S. total petroleum output was a little less than 10.5 million b/d. Preliminary numbers for June are pointing to output of about 10.9 million b/d. And it’s creating significant labor shortages in the Permian basin of Texas, with some workers having seen their pay double.


“This also is the first road that provides for charging on the road and not through overhead wires. We are charging the rail track every 60 meters. It is only feeding the rail when a vehicle authorized to pick out electricity moves over the road. Thus electricity is not turned on 24×7, but only when a vehicle is passing by.”

–Hans Sall, chairman of the eRoadArlanda consortium, talking about an experimental road in Sweden that recharges electric vehicles directly from the roads.

In other news:

The story of the legendary $7-$10 per mile rate

What kind of clout do carriers have today? (OverDrive online)

Getting it in in before things get worse

Imports are climbing due to the uncertainty over tariffs and other import restrictions (Wall Street Journal)

One more area where ELDs are cited as the cause

The ELD mandate is said to be kicking back into the air cargo business (The Loadstar)

Brokers join LNG as a marine fuel coalition

A group seeking to push LNG as a marine fuel gets its first brokers (World Maritime News)

Silicon Valley’s views vs. those from the warehouse

A differing perspective on drones and other automation inside the supply chain (Business Insider)

Final Thoughts

Another thought that I took from my days in Washington: there’s lots of ELD-related legislation in what legislators call “the hopper.” A member of Congress introduces legislation, trade press like us dutifully write about it, people talk about it and nobody expects it to ever become law. There’s one exception: if it can get attached as a rider to an appropriations bill. So the Denham amendment, which would reassert federal authority over changes that some states have implemented in mandatory rest rules and other trucker-related regulations, is viewed as very much alive. At this late point in the calendar, with midterms looming, the ELD or HOS rules that are in the hopper are likely to stay there. But the Denham amendment, because it’s attached to the Federal Aviation Administration authorization, is the one to watch.

Hammer down everyone!

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.