New Law Helps Propane Consumers During Winter Emergencies; Mandates Early Warning System

Washington, DC (July 1, 2014) – On June 30, 2014, President Obama signed into law S. 2086, the Reliable Home Heating Act.  This bill clarifies that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) must accept hours-of-service (HOS) extensions during emergencies declared by a Governor for up to two additional 30-day periods (for a total of three).  Current law allows additional HOS extensions to be granted by FMCSA or by a Presidential emergency declaration only.

Richard Roldan, NPGA’s President and CEO said, “This bill will benefit the millions of households that rely on propane for home heating.  Providing two additional hours-of-service extensions gives propane delivery drivers the flexibility they need to safely transport the fuel to the customers who need it most.”

The Reliable Home Heating Act also provides an early warning mechanism to monitor home heating fuel inventory levels.  The bill directs the Administrator of the Energy Information Administration, using data compiled from the Administration’s Weekly Petroleum Status Reports, to notify the governor of each state in a Petroleum Administration for Defense District if that district’s inventory of residential heating fuel has been below the most recent five-year average for more than three consecutive weeks.

Roldan continued, “State Governors are a great ally during the winter heating season, and we know they do not ever want to have to use emergency provisions, but are ready to do what is necessary and this legislation helps.  The provisions in this bill act as an informal early warning system that will increase communications between state and federal authorities to identify potential supply and distribution challenges before they happen.”

Senator John Thune (R-SD) introduced the Reliable Home Heating Act in May.  Both the House and Senate passed the same legislation by unanimous consent.