U.S. Delays Decision on Keystone Oil Pipeline

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by Transport Topics

The U.S. State Department said it has delayed its decision on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline and will examine alternate routes that would avoid environmentally sensistive areas in Nebraska, the Associated Press reported.

Calgary-based TransCanada seeks to build the 1,700-mile pipeline to connect oil sands in Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The pipeline would run from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

President Obama said the pipeline could affect the environment and the health and safety of the American people, AP said.

“We should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood,” Obama said in a statement, AP reported.

Last month, an American Trucking Associations official told the State Department the pipeline would provide a stable and secure source of energy for the U.S. and its trucking industry and its construction should be approved.


Highway Funding Bill Makes Significant Process

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by Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, led by senators Barbara Boxer and Jim Inhofe, took a significant step toward passing a bipartisan highway funding bill that will help manufacturers and farmers move their products to overseas markets and create thousands of American jobs.

Congress began consideration of the long overdue multi-year surface transportation reauthorization legislation known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP 21, a two-year bill which seeks to prevent a decrease in federal funding for America’s transportation infrastructure needs.

At the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing, Sen. Boxer specifically referenced the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) in her testimony, stating:

"To close, I want to read only one sentence from one letter, and this is from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and this is what they write us: ‘We believe there is no single piece of legislation that this Congress can consider that could do more to quickly create jobs and generate economic activity.’ "

AEM President Dennis Slater stated, "Road and bridge deterioration is one of the greatest barriers to global competitiveness. U.S. manufacturers and farmers alike say deteriorating roads, bridges and highways cost them time and money transporting their products to ports for export to overseas markets. For example, the recently passed export agreements with Columbia, South Korea and Panama have the potential to create thousands of new jobs, but if farmers and manufacturers can’t transport products at a competitive rate, they lose."

Slater added, "Global competitiveness and productivity require modernizing and rebuilding America’s transportation system. Bipartisan support in Congress for the transportation reauthorization bill is vital to U.S. manufacturers and farmers."

View Sen. Boxer’s remarks at minute 28 here.


CDL Changes Start Jan. 30

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By Jill Dunn
Overdrive Online

Truckers must keep paper copies of their medical examiner’s certificate with them while driving for another two years, according to a final rule to be published Nov. 15.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s upcoming final rule will extend that mandate for interstate CDL holders until Jan. 30, 2014. It also will continue requiring carriers keep paper copies of their drivers’ certificates until then.

This month’s final rule is a follow-up to the agency’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, issued last June, which proposed amending a 2008 final rule.

That 2008 final rule required CDL holders subject to federal physical qualification provide an original or copy of their medical examiner’s certificate to their state driver’s licensing agency. State agencies must post the medical certification information in the Commercial Driver’s License Information System, the federal electronic database.

After the 2008 final rule, several states told the FMCSA their offices lacked the capacity to comply by the rule’s Jan. 30, 2012, deadline. The agency extended the paper copy requirement for interstate CDL holders and carriers two years to provide sufficient overlap for state agencies.

However, the FMCSA did not extend the deadline for state agencies. Beginning Jan. 30, drivers applying for or renewing CDLs under the non-excepted interstate category will have to self-certify and provide the certificate or a copy to the state licensing agency. All drivers affected by the rule will have to comply by Jan. 30, 2014.

More information on the final rule, FMCSA-1997–2210, is available here.


Trucking School Aids Food Bank - Diesel Driving Academy

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Students Gain Experience While Helping Nonprofit Save Cash
By Aprille Hanson

LITTLE ROCK -- LITTLE ROCK; The students of Diesel Driving Academy in Little Rock are learning what it’s like to haul a load while helping feed the hungry in Arkansas.

This year, the driving school has partnered with the Arkansas Foodbank to transport food from the food bank’s Little Rock location, at 4301 W. 65th St. , to its branch in Warren , for free.

“It’s a win-win. It’s a natural partnership that’s providing them with something they really want — a live load and real-life training experience,” said Ray White, the food bank’s marketing and communications director. “And, of course, we’re getting free shipping. It just makes you feel good that things can come together in that way.”

Freddy Gregg, the academy’s director of training and placement, said the school’s other two locations in Louisiana often volunteer.

“I was aware of the service the food bank provided. I thought that would be a great opportunity for us to get some positive community involvement,” Gregg said.

The end result was a crew of about three student drivers and an instructor taking about 25,000 pounds of food three times a month to Warren . The drive is about 180 miles round trip.

The partnership, which began in the spring, has saved the food bank about $12,000 in transportation costs, White said.

“Obviously any savings we have gives us more money to go out and purchase food to have available to our agencies,” said T.J. Romine, the food bank’s chief operation officer.

The food bank still hires independent trucking agencies to pick up donations five days a week, which can average about $400 to $500 per load.

Other companies, including Stallion Transportation Group in Beebe, haul loads for the food bank, sometimes for free.

“[There are] associations that volunteer to take a load sometimes, but this is the first time we have a regular routine,” Romine said.

The Arkansas Foodbank is a nonprofit organization that serves 33 counties to help the half a million people in Arkansas suffering from hunger, White said. In 2010, the food bank distributed 13.2 million pounds of food to approximately 300 food agencies in the state.

White said with every dollar saved from partnering with the academy, “we have three meals available to people in Arkansas .”

Gregg said the academy has a little less than 70 students going for their commercial driver’s license through either the 20-week daytime course or the 25-week night course. The 460-hour courses are split between the classroom, studying the trucks and driving on interstates, two-lane roads and residential areas.

“We try to get them acclimated to as many different driving environments as we can,” Gregg said.

Gregg said the only real freight the students will haul is for the food bank.

“They kind of get a look that they might not ordinarily get through the training,” Gregg said.

By driving the route, students learn the importance of giving back to the community and the urgency of getting a product to its destination.

“I think it’s good to look out for the people who can’t feed themselves right now or just need assistance,” said student Hosea Harper, 42, of Little Rock .

“It’s part of the reality of the trucking industry because I got to drive over and back the truck into the dock and load the trailer. It was a good experience.”

The students drive the route near the end of their course, Gregg said.

White said the generosity of the academy has eased some of the burden.

“Our pantries are seeing longer lines and more need every weekend, we would love to have more support,” White said.

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The State of Things: Hours-of-Service

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DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of November 7, 2011
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance

The Hours-of-Service debate has dominated the industry for the last few years. Where do the regulations stand and what is coming next?

Hours-of-Service; everyone in the industry has an opinion on it. The regulations governing the hours during which a driver can operate a CMV have been the focus of an intense debate that has been waged for the better part of the last ten years.

2011 has seen an intense burst of activity regarding a revised set of rules. Progress, however, has been halting and frustration on the matter — already high — has only grown. In this edition of Fast-Fax we are going to take a look at where the regulations are, where they are going and when we are likely to see meaningful progress.

The Current Regulations

Long-time readers may remember that the most recent rules were enacted in 2005. From the moment of their publication, the 2005 regulations caused a storm of controversy. Critics charged that the rules prevented drivers from taking naps during the day to rest up, thus making trucks more dangerous under the new rules.

The 2010 Proposed Regulations

A slew of lawsuits were fired back and forth over the 2005 regulations. A number of groups, including both OOIDA and ATA as well as non-industry safety advocates, demanded that the rules be changed. FMCSA responded with several proposals.

The most recent of these was released at the end of 2010. As every other proposed rule before it had been, it was immediately condemned by opponents and disappeared into a cycle of Request for Comments and reviews.

At the same time, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was being sued by advocacy groups. It was settled by the courts that new rules would be published by July 28, 2011.

When it became apparent that that date would not be reached, FMCSA and the advocacy groups agreed to delay the publication date to October 28, 2011. That date has come and gone with no publication.

New Rules Approach

This week, however, there is word that the latest versions of the rules have been passed from FMCSA to the White House Office of Management and Budget. OMB’s role is to review the rules for problems, budgetary concerns and practicality. Once OMB has reviewed and approved the rules, the proposal can be published in the Federal Register. OMB is not a ‘rubber stamp,’ however, it can and does reject rules; sending them back to the originating agency. The OMB process can take as long as 90 days.

Congressional Interference

That is the state of regulations from the Executive perspective. In addition to this, there is also interference from the Legislature. This adds an additional level of complication. Just this week, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R) of New Hampshire, attempted to introduce legislation to block the new Hours of Service rules from FMCSA. This was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada on the grounds that the rules don’t exist yet.

When Will We See Resolution?

It may be a long time. One of the key problems is that while there are a number of opponents to FMCSA, those opponents don’t necessarily agree with one another. If FMCSA releases rules that please the Trucking Industry, they are liable to be sued by safety advocates. If they release rules that please employers they are liable to be sued by driver’s unions. FMCSA has the unenviable task of creating rules that have to please everybody. On top of that, at any point in the process, Congress can change the rules of the game by issuing new restrictions and demands on to FMCSA.

For a little perspective, remember the 2005 rules replaced rules that were enacted in 1962. During that 43 year gap there were numerous attempts to change the rules. In the meantime, we can expect the latest proposal sometime in the next 3 months.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 111, No. 713 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

Marines First to Cut Tuition Assistance

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From Newsroom America
By Jon E. Dougherty at 19 Oct 19:33

(Newsroom America) -- The Marine Corps has become the first U.S. military branch to cut college tuition assistance to its members, and the cuts are substantial, according to newly released figures., quoting an official Marine Corps education document, said the branch will reduce tuition reimbursement rates from $250 per credit hour to $175 per hour for undergraduate courses. Rates will also fall to $225 per credit hour for graduate level courses, and the overall annual tuition assistance limit has been reduced from $4,500 to $3,500 per fiscal year.

The reductions are no doubt part of the Pentagon's overall strategy of reducing its budget as lawmakers seek to cut hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending over the coming years... Continue reading...

(c) 2011 Newsroom America.