AUGUSTA — On the last day of 2013, Dec. 31, Gov. Paul LePage signed emergency legislation allowing Maine fuel transport and delivery trucks to drive additional hours to ensure timely heating fuel deliveries during the unusually cold weather that is expected over the next several days. This is the second such proclamation the governor has made in the last 30 days. The legislation will expire Jan. 14.
The National Weather Service is calling for temperatures to be single digits to below zero through Sunday, Jan. 5.
Steve Young, general manager of Harvest Energy in Rockport, said the emergency legislation does help in keeping up with the demand for fuel.
“There are limitations on how many hours we can drive in a day,” said Young. “It means extended hours to make deliveries. Common sense dictates we don’t want our drivers working more than 8-10 hours a day, but it gives us the flexibility in making more deliveries if it’s warranted.”
Young said drivers could work up to 12 hours a day making fuel deliveries. The U.S. Department of Transportation sets limitations on the number of hours drivers may spend behind the wheel of a delivery truck.
“We have used the emergency legislation to ensure our customers have fuel,” said Young. “We try to get all deliveries done in a five- to six-day work week, but Sunday deliveries are very real if someone needs fuel. It’s New Year’s Day and I’m in the office working. I have a driver out making deliveries today and I’m making deliveries of fuel. We’re very committed to our customers’ needs.”
In a press release Dec. 31, the governor stated: “Recent ice and snow storms have hampered efforts for oil delivery trucks to deliver fuel, which is one reason this declaration is being extended. The declaration allows heating fuel to be delivered to Maine families when they need it most. Keeping homes warm is critical to protect the public health and safety of Mainers."
The Declaration reads as follows:
Governor's Emergency Proclamation for US-DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Hours of Service Waiver WHEREAS,Maineis experiencing artic cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills; and
WHEREAS, this cold weather is expected to continue for the next several days affecting the entire State; and
WHEREAS, heating fuel inMaineis in great demand because of the cold; and
WHEREAS, federal motor carrier safety regulations determine the number of hours the drivers of heating fuel and bulk petroleum delivery and transport vehicles may operate; and
WHEREAS, many drivers in the State will shortly be approaching their federal limit on hours of operation and may have to cease delivery of heating fuel and bulk petroleum fuels; and
WHEREAS, these conditions threaten public health and safety and endanger public property if heating fuels cannot be transported or delivered within the State of Maine; and
WHEREAS, the declaration of a State of Emergency will facilitate the granting of a waiver from the U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, pursuant to 49 CFR part 390.23 to allow relief from 49 CFR parts 390 through 399, specifically 49 CFR part 395 Hours of Service of Drivers, and subject to the limitations described below, and therefore allow heating fuel and bulk petroleum delivery and transport drivers to operate additional hours; and
WHEREAS, motor carriers that have an Out-Of-Service Order in effect may not take advantage of the relief from regulation that such a declaration provides under 49 CFR 390.23,
NOW THEREFORE, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of Maine, find that these conditions constitute a civil emergency under 37-B M.R.S.A. section 742, and for the purpose pursuant to 49 CFR part 390.23 of facilitating a waiver to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, specifically 49 CFR part 395
Hours of Service of Drivers, do hereby declare that a State of Emergency for fuel drivers operating within the State ofMaine exists as of December 31, 2013 through January 18, 2014.
Pursuant to this declaration, I hereby order the following: No motor carrier operating under the terms of this emergency declaration shall require or allow an ill or fatigued driver to operate a motor vehicle. A driver who notifies a motor carrier that he or she needs immediate rest shall be given a least ten (10) consecutive hours off-duty before the driver is required to return to service.