EMA Urges DOE, DHS, FMCSA to Address Problems Related To Winter Storm, Driver Shortage
Over the past two months, EMA has been in frequent communication with DOE, DOT and DHS regarding lingering distribution problems in some parts of the South primarily caused by the dramatic winter storm in Texas.
Since then, EMA has also been communicating that in the South there are already problems with keeping stations filled due to the need to “catch-up” from the delays caused by the January Texas winter storm.
Subsequent flooding and a nationwide driver shortage has been exacerbated by driver illness and further by the latest stimulus checks and increased unemployment benefits.
EMA members are concerned that given that some states are already in a deficit, an early hurricane (NOAA moved Hurricane Season up to May 15 beginning this year) would mean more serious deficits and shortages, and we are particularly concerned about what might occur in an evacuation under these circumstances.
In a follow-up to the previous communications, EMA VP Sherri Stone reported that EMA and Steve Ferren, Arkansas Oil Marketers Association, Inc.; Ned Bowman, Florida Petroleum Marketers Association; and Emily LeRoy, Tennessee Fuel & Convenience Store Association, had a detailed situational awareness discussion Friday with 10 DOE and Energy Information Administration (EIA) leaders.
All potential solutions (federal regional Hours-of-Service (HOS) waiver, state weight waivers, and an awareness of the need for a particularly quick response time to any waiver requests should a hurricane occur before the states are back to full capacity, and the need for long-term solutions to the driver shortage) are being considered.
In addition, last week, EMA, along with NATSO, NACS and SIGMA, also sent a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) arguing for an expansion of the nationwide HOS waiver to include the transportation of fuel to alleviate the current driver shortage. Allowing truck drivers to work more hours will reduce the number of trucks and drivers it takes to move the same amount of fuel.