Gov. John Hickenlooper today signed an Executive Order that declares a disaster emergency due to extreme winter weather and authorizes a temporary exception to the hours-of-service regulations for commercial motor vehicles used in the transportation of propane.
The governor's order says:
"Temperatures in Colorado have dropped below zero for consecutive weeks. The recent extreme winter weather has caused an emergency situation by significantly reducing the availability of propane and impeding the delivery of necessary propane to many areas of Colorado. The extreme winter weather caused the cost of propane to skyrocket across the country and significantly reduced the supply. The commercial vehicle industry is impeded from continuing statewide propane fuel delivery operations for winter heating purposes. As a result, many Coloradans are left without a mechanism to heat their homes."
Federal and state law sets the hours which commercial vehicle drivers may operate. "Those restrictions are impeding the commercial vehicle industry from delivering fuel to Coloradans in need," the order says.
In general, natural gas carriers may allow their drivers to be on duty for a total of 14 hours of which only 11 hours can be drive time before requiring the driver to take 10 hours of rest. Without 10 hours of rest the driver is not allowed to drive any commercial vehicle or be allowed to perform any safety sensitive function for the carrier.
A driver who works every day of the week is allowed to be on duty for a total of 70 hours every eight consecutive days before they are required to log 34 hours of off-duty time. A driver with weekends off, is allowed to be on duty for only 60 hours every seven consecutive days before they are required to log 34 hours of off duty time.
"The provisions of (applicable state law) are hereby suspended to the extent that they prevent the delivery of necessary propane winter heating fuel to distribution points within Colorado," the governor's order says.
The order allowing the exception shall not be construed as an exemption from C.R.S. Title 42, Traffic Code, as it relates to general motor vehicle safety, state and federal financial responsibility requirements, commercial driver's license requirements, size and weight regulations, or any federal motor carrier safety regulations not specifically identified in the order. The exception shall also not be construed as an exemption from 49 CFR 392.4, which prohibits ill or fatigued drives from operating a motor vehicle.
"Propane shortages across the country have stretched Colorado propane supplies thin," said Baron Glassgow, executive director of the Colorado Propane Gas Association. "On behalf of the Colorado propane industry and the thousands of customers who rely on propane to heat their homes, and fuel their businesses and fleets, we are grateful to Gov. Hickenlooper for issuing the emergency declaration providing hours of service relief for the propane industry."