NPGA Explores Alternatives Following FMCSA’s Denial of Hours-of-Service Exemption

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently rejected the National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) request for a five-year special exemption to federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations, which resulted in a setback. This denial, received in September 2022, prompted NPGA to reassess its approach and explore alternative solutions.

The discussions between FMCSA and NPGA revolved around a proposal that aimed to streamline operations during periods of peak consumer demand. The proposal sought an automatic waiver of specific regulations, allowing companies to exercise discretion on a per-vehicle or per-driver basis without requiring state or federal intervention. Key components of the proposal included extending the daily driving maximum from 11 hours to 14 hours and extending the daily on-duty max from 14 hours to 17 hours for up to six consecutive days.

Steve Kaminski, President and CEO of NPGA, expressed disappointment at the denial but highlighted the FMCSA’s primary concern—safety. The regulatory body expressed reservations about granting companies the autonomy to determine when waivers were appropriate, ultimately prioritizing safety considerations over operational flexibility.

However, it’s worth noting that the propane industry did receive a broader HOS waiver in December, encompassing 47 states for 15 days. Kaminski acknowledged that while the Biden administration’s stance on granting such waivers may be less lenient than in the past, the winter waiver somewhat alleviated the industry’s concerns. This reprieve provided some relief and demonstrated a level of responsiveness from the authorities.

As NPGA moves forward, they are actively evaluating alternative options and strategies. While the special exemption was not granted, the association remains committed to finding practical solutions that balance operational efficiency with safety standards. The goal is to ensure propane industry players can navigate the challenges of peak consumer demand without compromising safety protocols.

As NPGA explores new avenues, its focus remains steadfast on fostering a secure and sustainable environment within the propane industry. Adapting to changing regulations and seeking innovative solutions will be vital to maintaining efficient operations while upholding the highest safety standards.

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