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ON THE HORIZON


“IF IT WASN’T FOR HYDRAULIC FRACTURING IN THIS STATE, HALF OF OUR OIL AND HALF OUR GAS WOULDN’T BE PRODUCED.” —DAVE GALT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MONTANA PETROLEUM ASSOCIATION


elections, earlier had filed a bill in theHouse that directed the secretary of transportation to ensure that waiting time at oilfields doesn’t count as on-duty time. In an email sent by his office before the election, Landry said, “Changing the ‘waiting time’ exemption is the administration’s backdoor attempt at stopping hydraulic fracturing by regulating the trucks that serve this industry. This change will make domestic energy creation more expensive, add unnecessary wear to our rural highways, and increase regulatory compliance cost for small businesses.” In a letter to Landry, Secretary of


Transportation Ray LaHood said states were seeing an increase in oil and gas drilling and the accompanying truck traffic and that fatigue-related crashes need to be prevented. McCorkle has been a motor carrier since


1953 and has seen the fracking industry’s importance grow so that it now comprises


about 60 percent of his dry bulk company’s business.When he first started hauling, a typical fracking operation might require only a few loads of sand, and there was plenty of storage on site.Now jobs require up to 200 loads, storage on site is not adequate, and drivers must wait in remote locations serviced only by country roads. Any disruption in the drilling process can cause a backlog, but when drillers are ready, they need the sand and water to be available as soon as possible. “We’re there to work, and we have to be available to take care of their operational problems,” he said. But McCorkle said the FMCSA’s new


guidance has put his company in a tough spot. Once the driver has reached his 14-hour window, he can’t move his truck into position to unload and is stuck for 10 hours. If the driver stays near the drilling site, then he’s considered to be on duty even if he is simply


waiting. If he leaves the area, he’s forced to park on narrow dirt roads in the wilderness, which means he may run afoul of local law enforcement. How can carriers then comply? In theory,


they could drive their equipment in and out of the area during that 14-hour window, but that would mean tying up an asset and burning a lot of diesel. Another possibility would be busing replacement drivers to a site, but that would force carriers to maintain a cadre of replacements ready to travel hundreds of miles to relieve drivers who have been resting in their cabs anyway. The new policy is meant to create a safer


driving environment by reducing truck traffic, but McCorkle said it has created unnecessary congestion by forcing carriers to drive back and forth to comply. “We’re resting,” McCorkle said. “We’re not going anywhere with a sleepy driver.” RW


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ROADWISE |


ISSUE 6, 2012 | www.mttrucking.org


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