Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) has introduced legislation to extend the hours of service exemptions for haulers of propane and other home heating fuels. The bill is called H.R. 4076, the Home Heating Emergency Assistance Through Transportation (HHEATT) Act of 2014, and its purpose is to address the transportation and distribution issues that are contributing to the continuing propane and home heating oil shortages in the United States. The bill has nine co-sponsors.
This winter’s record-setting cold temperatures have increased the demand for propane, which is in great supply but not easily available, due to the strained transportation and infrastructure system. Rep. Shuster stated, “Across the 9th District, I’ve heard from constituents who have been impacted by this shortage. These people depend on propane for both their homes and businesses, and we must do everything we can to get them the fuel they need for this extreme cold.”
The bill, if passed, will specifically allow truckers to drive longer hours through May 31 if they are delivering home heating fuels. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued hours of service waivers to household fuel haulers in 36 states and Washington D.C since January, but “its declarations can only last 30 days at a time, creating uncertainty and limited relief,” said Shuster.
Propane is used for heating in more than 12 million households in the U.S. “This extremely cold winter is expected to continue, possibly threatening the lives and livelihoods of those with homes, farms, and businesses that depend on heat from propane and other home heating fuels,” Shuster said. “This bill will provide the certainty needed to give much needed relief to those who have been impacted by this shortage. The HHEATT Act will provide relief from transportation issues that have slowed desperately needed fuel from reaching those who need it during this emergency.”
If the current shortages crisis lessens, or ends, the bill authorizes Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to end the extension of the waivers before May 31. Foxx would consult with governors and lift the waivers on a state-by-state basis.