By Martin Kidston
Increased demand in propane due to harsh winter conditions has prompted Gov. Steve Bullock to issue an executive order declaring a state of emergency, temporarily exempting carriers from rules guiding delivery of the fuel.
Bullock suspended the state’s “hours of service” regulations, citing harsh winter conditions and an increased short-term demand for propane. Temperatures forecast for next week are again expected to dive below zero, reaching double digits in most locations.
“Montana’s winter weather can pose a serious threat to the livelihood of Montanans who depend on propane and heating oil,” Bullock said.“This order will ensure the timely and necessary delivery of petroleum products so that Montanans keep warm in their homes and continue to work, even in the harshest of winter conditions.”
Bullock said limited petroleum production in Montana has disrupted the industry’s ability to provide consistent fuel stocks to bulk distributors, causing delay in the loading and transport of hearing fuels by commercial drivers.
To address the issue, the executive order temporarily suspends “hours of service” regulations that guide carriers actively involved in transporting propane, heating oil and diesel fuel to communities across Montana.
Issued Wednesday afternoon, the order requires carriers and commercial drivers to operate their commercial motor vehicles in a safe and prudent manner, and that “hours of service” requirements must be followed if a driver needs immediate rest.