Hoeven Presses for Action To Alleviate Propane Shortage

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today wrote to the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to urge action to help alleviate propane shortages in the region. Hoeven requested an Emergency Declaration for the Western Service Center, which includes North Dakota, to provide drivers transporting propane with relief from existing Hours of Service limitations, while maintaining requirements that drivers operate safely.

“We need to do all we can to ensure that our communities have the propane supplies they need, especially with the extremely cold temperatures we’ve been experiencing” said Hoeven. “An emergency declaration would help alleviate some of the strains being placed on our propane supplies and help to ensure that during these cold winter months we have the oil to heat our homes and businesses. We’ll continue doing what we can to address propane shortages across our state.”

The full text of Hoeven’s letter is below:

January 24, 2014

Ms. Anne S. Ferro
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, Southeast
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Administrator Ferro:

I am writing to urge you to declare a state of emergency and grant regional exemptions from Hours of Service (HOS) regulations for the Western Service Center. Your support for regional exemptions in the Midwest, Eastern, and Southern Service Centers has provided relief to these areas; however, many of these states in the Western Service Center, including North Dakota, are still experiencing propane supply shortages, and residents have had to resort to traveling long distances to get propane so they can heat their homes during these cold winter months, as well as dry their crops.

As you know, propane prices have increased to record highs stemming from high demand as a result of a wet corn harvest, the extreme temperatures this winter, and regional supply disruptions. Consequently, distributors have been unable to secure enough supplies for the residents in North Dakota.

Given the shortage and demand for propane, it is time for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to provide relief to North Dakota and others in the Western Service Center. In addition to declaring a state of emergency and granting regional exceptions from HOS in North Dakota, it is also critical that FMCSA extend the HOS service relief to Texas, which is home to the world’s largest underground propane storage facility.

I have been in contact with local and state officials and federal highway administrators about the tight supply and rapid increase in prices of propane in North Dakota, and this waiver would support measures taken at the local level.

I thank you for your consideration of my request, and look forward to your assistance in this pressing matter.