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as many drivers,” he said. “Those drivers are hard to find, and we’ll be putting more inexperienced drivers on the road.” Oil and natural gas extraction has boomed

nationwide thanks to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking,” in which high-pressure water, sand and chemicals break up rock to release the resources. According to an article in the 2012 Treasure

State Journal by Dr. Scott Rickard with the Montana StateUniversity Billings Center for Applied Economic Research, the technology is responsible for 7,500 jobs in Montana, a $10.5 billion economic impact, and $440 million in state and local taxes, “We are a significant contributor to the fact

that the budget in Montana is in the black, and has been through the recession,” said DaveGalt, executive director of the Montana

PetroleumAssociation. Oil in Montana has been a job creator since

the first well was dug in 1915, but production began rising in about 1999 and peaked in 2006. Exploratory work is being done in two- thirds of the state, but the star of the show is the Bakken Formation, which is located in the state’s northeast corner,North Dakota and Canada. Fracking has been around since the 1940s,

but the boom occurred when it was paired with horizontal drilling in the early 1990s. In Montana, the oil-laden shale rock is only 16-20 feet thick and 10,000 feet below the surface. The two technologies enable extractors to crack it open and then siphon out the black gold. “Otherwise, you were drilling a vertical

hole in the ground, kind of like a straw in a real tight milkshake,”Galt said. “You couldn’t

really get enough oil out of that vertical well to make it economic to drill. But when you went down 10,000 feet, turned sideways, and you’re able to run a four- or five- or eight thousand foot lateral well, all within that shale there, it’s really made the whole shale, natural gas and oil across the country work. And hydraulic fracturing partnered with horizontal drilling is the key to that. “If it wasn’t for hydraulic fracturing in this

state, half of our oil and half our gas wouldn’t be produced. It would be still in the ground.” The rapid increase in oilfield activities

nationwide has led to inconsistent rules enforcement across state lines, so the American Trucking Associations expected a regulatory change was coming. Dave McCorkle of Texas-based McCorkle Truck Line was appointed to chair a study group to research the issue last May. But the way the change came into being

– with no study beforehand and no warning – took carriers by surprise. Boyd Stephenson, director of hazardous materials policy for the American Trucking Associations, said such a regulatory change should have been accomplished through a rulemaking process, not a regulatory guidance. “We were not expecting something to appear in the Federal Register so suddenly, and certainly we were not expecting to see something appear in the Federal Register that was effective upon publication,” he said. “That’s the sort of thing that’s usually reserved for fixing typographical errors in regulation.” He expressed concern that the FMCSA’s

abrupt policy change could set a precedent for future reversals. “We really think that the agency, in line with not just the letter but the spirit of the Administrative Procedures Act, ought to make sure when they put notice out to the regulated community that they give the regulated community proper time to respond to the change in the playing field before they upend everything,” he said. McCorkle’s study group has formulated

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a response asking the FMCSA to rescind its guidance until the agency can weigh the costs and benefits of a change. Then it should formulate a policy that takes into account how both the oilfield and trucking industries have evolved over the last 50 years. The basis of the exceptions, the study group said, should be ensuring adequate driver rest and public safety, not deciding whether the equipment is specialized. FMCSA’s new guidance attracted

congressional interest. Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.), who was defeated in theNovember

ROADWISE | ISSUE 6, 2012 |


“The reaction to the article was really pretty amazing. I was not only surprised by how many people saw the magazine, but also apparently read the article and commented about it. I was stunned to get such a response from so many folks in the industry.” Curt Laingen

Owner, Curt Laingen Trucking, Inc.

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