A waiver to federal hours of service and other rules tied to the drought in North Dakota is about to go into its third month.
Gov. Doug Burgum has been granted his request by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to extend the waiver another 30 days. It first went into effect Sept. 22 and was extended in October until Nov. 23. This latest waiver will remain in effect until Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.
In his statement announcing the granting of the FMCSA waiver, Burgum said the relief is for “commercial vehicles transporting water and livestock feed to help North Dakota livestock producers affected by continuing drought conditions.”
Governors can request 30-day waivers that can then be extended, as has been done here.
“Because emergency conditions have not abated, FMCSA is again extending the emergency declaration and granting regulatory relief,” FMCSA said in announcing the extension. “This extension of the emergency declaration addresses ongoing emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of water and livestock feed, including hay, and provides necessary relief.”
The waiver is for 49 CFR § 395.3, which is the part of the federal code that deals with hours-of-service rules.
The FMCSA statement makes clear what the waiver does not apply to. It says that the relief comes to an end “when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are not in support of emergency relief efforts related to the drought emergency in the state of North Dakota or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce.”
The drought monitor map released weekly by the federal government shows virtually all of North Dakota at some level of drought, though it is improving from where it was several months ago.
Three months ago, zero percent of the state reported no drought; that number is now 7.62%. And three months ago, a little more than 13% of the state was in the most extreme drought category published by the joint agencies that publish the drought monitor. That figure is now down to zero.
About 41.6% of the state is in the middle three categories of drought, but even there, that’s an improvement from almost 100% three months ago.
The extension of the North Dakota waiver joins several other waivers that remain in place from past natural disasters. A waiver in California for drivers working in connection with fire-fighting efforts for the Dixie Fly-Tamarack fire has been in effect since July. Its expiration date is listed by FMCSA as TBD.
A waiver in Alabama linked to Hurricane Ida also has a TBD expiration date.
A general COVID-related waiver in Georgia is set to expire Saturday. A similar waiver in North Carolina runs out Tuesday.