Senators intro bill to address challenges at ports

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Updated Feb 9, 2022

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022:

FMCSA suspends certain HOS regs for heating fuel haulers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a Regional Emergency Declaration and is continuing the exemption from certain hours of service regulations due to winter storms impacting much of the U.S.

FMCSA says the emergency is in response to winter storms and high demand resulting in decreased availability of heating fuel, including propane, natural gas and heating oil. The declaration covers 41 states and Washington, D.C.

Affected states are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Under terms of the declaration, motor carriers and truck drivers providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts transporting heating fuel are temporarily exempt from 49 CFR Part 395.3, which is the maximum driving time regulation in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Direct assistance ends when a driver or commercial vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are not in support of emergency relief efforts related to the emergency in the affected states.

The waiver is effective immediately and will remain in effect until the end of the emergency or through March 8, whichever is earlier.

Senators introduce bill to address challenges at ports

Members of the U.S. Senate introduced a bill similar to legislation passed in the House in December that seeks to ease supply chain challenges at ports, including addressing detention practices. The House version of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act was passed overwhelmingly by a 364-60 vote.

The Senate’s version of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, introduced by Sens. John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), like the House bill, aims to clear up backlogs of agricultural exports sitting at ports while empty containers are shipped back to Asia.

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According to a press release from Klobuchar, the legislation would make it harder “for ocean carriers to arbitrarily turn away goods at ports that are ready to be shipped abroad. It would also give the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the federal agency responsible for the regulation of oceanborne transportation, greater authority to regulate harmful practices by carriers.

The bill also includes language requiring the FMC to create a new rulemaking to define prohibited practices by common ocean carriers, marine terminal operators, shippers and ocean transportation intermediaries regarding the assessment of demurrage or detention charges.

Specifically, the trucking industry seeks relief from excessive detention and demurrage charges, as many in trucking see them as unfair fees levied on motor carriers by ocean carriers and marine terminal operators when shipping containers are not moved on schedule, though delays are typically due to factors entirely outside truckers’ control and often the result of inefficiencies caused by the ocean carriers themselves.

The American Trucking Associations supported the House version of the bill for addressing those practices.

“Ensuring fair practices at our ports is critical to ensuring goods get from docks to warehouses and store shelves,” said Jon Eisen, director of ATA’s Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference, of the House’s passage of its bill in December. “House passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act is a major step toward modernizing regulations to reflect the commercial realities of ocean freight and their impact on our domestic transportation networks. ATA welcomes the improvements in this bill and a vigorous debate over these issues.”

Reefer fleet plans $31M expansion

Art Mulder and Sons Trucking announced it is investing more than $31 million in a 147,00-squarer-foot facility, which will include freezer and cooler warehouse storage, refrigerated and cooler dock space, office space, mechanical rooms, maintenance areas, and training and conference rooms. In addition, the facility will include capacity for food processing and packaging functions.

The company said it will create 55 jobs in the city of Holland, Michigan. AMST has a fleet of 45 trucks, 145 refrigerated trailers and 125 full and part-time employees.

Lakeshore Advantage, the economic development agency for Ottawa and Allegan counties, said last week it connected Art Mulder and Sons Trucking with local resources to help the company expand its operations.

“The Cold-Link Logistics Holland team is excited to provide logistics solutions to our existing partners and eager to meet future needs in a growing market,” said Chad Mulder, president of Art Mulder and Sons Trucking. “We embrace the opportunity to attract new team members who want to be a part of an organization that stands (for) family values. These values drive our commitment and dedication to customer care, which spans from vendors and partners in the supply chain down to every driver coming through our doors.”