As a result of the snow and demands for heating oil, Gov. Pawlenty alleviated government regulations on the hours fuel truckers may drive. He issued an executive order temporarily pacifying government restriction for smaller fuel-truck drivers.
The difficulties made by December's rough winter conditions and fuel requirements of snow-removal equipment pushed the governor to take action. Although a state official described the governors action as not unusual. President of the Minnesota Trucking Association, John Hausladen, described the change as "narrow" and not a affecting larger, tractor-trailer rigs.
"What it says is that we're not having statewide major fuel shortages," Hausladen said of the exemptions.
Hausladen did not join in requesting the change.
Spokesman of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) said the executive order was petitioned by the Minnesota Petroleum Marketers Association. The association told state officials that the delays brought about by current snowfalls had pressured some truckers to run out of hours they can work daily under federal and state regulations.
Kevin Gutknecht, a MnDOT spokesman, said in some instances drivers "had to laboriously shovel through snow to find fill pipes during home deliveries" of heating fuel.
According to Hausladen federal and state rules mandate that drivers can only drive 11 hours a day, and their duty last for no more than 14 hours a day.
Included in the exemptions, which is expected to end no later than January 7, drivers can be on duty 15 hours a day, however they must have 10 hours off duty between shifts. Drivers are allowed to operate on the new schedule for five consecutive days, although they must have 34 hours off duty before coming back for work. According to Pawlenty's order, the exemptions only apply to shorter, 100-mile radius trips.
Hausladen voiced that the exemptions only extended the maximum on-duty day by one hour, from 14 to 15 hours. He explained that as a result of the snowstorm delays and the extra heating fuel demands, truck drivers can easily waste three, four, five hours of their day painstakingly waiting in line to fill their trucks with fuel. Hausladen said the drivers are literally out of [their allowed] hours by the time they make their deliveries.