Gov. Janet Napolitano has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation
to temporarily waive HOS regulations to enable truckdrivers to deliver
needed gasoline after an oil pipeline break caused severe fuel shortages
in her state.
governor wants drivers to operate 80 hours a week, up from 70 hours.
there’s no word yet from DOT, the Environmental Protection Agency
granted a 30-day waiver Aug. 19 to relax fuel regulations and let
truckers deliver gas from California and New Mexico that is normally
not used in Arizona.
addition, state officials started a trucking recruitment effort
in New Mexico, California and Nevada so drivers can deliver more
gas, the governor’s office said.
are getting truckers to operate in Arizona from those states,” Kris
Mayes, a spokeswoman for the governor, told Land Line. “As
far as the crisis goes, we’re not out of the woods yet. The governor
has been holding meetings all day and is talking with representatives
of Kinder Morgan.”
of the crisis came Aug. 9, the day after Kinder Morgan Energy Partners
shut down its 60,000-barrel-a-day pipeline. After that, stations
began to run out of gas and wholesale prices started to climb.
discouraging news: The Phoenix-to-Tucson gasoline pipeline that
was shut down because of leaks ruptured again during tests Aug.
20, but the company still expects the line to be back in service
the meantime, Napolitano and corporate executives blamed each other
for not acting soon enough to head off the shortage. Both sides
pointed to a lack of communication and disagreements over the right
way to test and reopen the fuel line.
said the pipeline company and fuel distributors assured her there
would be only "spot shortages" of gasoline Aug. 17 and
18. In fact, consumers created a massive sucking sound by rapidly
draining gas stations all over Arizona’s Valley area.
angry Arizona is being put through this because this pipeline broke
and there didn't appear to be an adequate backup plan," Napolitano
said during a news conference. "And I'm angry that the private
sector, which is supposed to be in charge of running gasoline into
the Valley, doesn't have its act together to deal with a critical
situation, so now the public sector has to step in."
industry officials countered that Napolitano should have reacted
more quickly to the warning that stations were running low after
in ‘wrong place at wrong time’
private and government officials told The Arizona Daily Star they did not foresee the public's panic-buying spree, which
would have drained supplies even without a pipeline break. They
also said they failed to anticipate the inability of gasoline trucks
to get supplies to stations in time to avert shortages.
three days of gas lines and empty pumps, Napolitano Aug. 19 urged
conservation among state employees, a reduction of corporate commuter
trips and a lifting of HOS restrictions.
to press reports, the governor said, “You have all these truckers
in the wrong place at the wrong time. The drivers are controlled
by federal regulation, so they can only drive so many hours at a
time. So retailers are forced to dip into their storage of gas,
and that all cascaded over the weekend."
Dick Larsen, senior editor
Larsen can be reached at email@example.com.