Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam issued Executive Order #56 on Friday waiving federal hours of service requirements for petroleum transporters to prevent any fuel supply disruptions for Tennesseans from the Colonial pipeline leak in Shelby County, Ala.
“This is a precautionary measure as we are not currently seeing any widespread unavailability of petroleum in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “We urge Tennesseans to maintain their normal fuel purchasing and driving patterns to help prevent any potential impacts on our fuel supply while the pipeline undergoes repairs.”
Gov. Haslam’s executive order only relates to fuel transportation for this state of emergency and waives only the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 49 Code of Federal Regulations, Sections 390 and 395 rules related to hours-of-service suspensions, and pipeline repair and fuel transportation.
The emergency declaration will allow drivers to work longer hours to ensure petroleum is available to convenience stores, fuel retailers, and fuel wholesalers in Tennessee. The Tennessee departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Insurance, Environment and Conservation, Safety and Homeland Security, Transportation, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and private sector energy partners are monitoring the petroleum supply issue and collaborating to alleviate and address any petroleum disruptions in Tennessee.
On Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation requested, and received, a fuel blend waiver from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), covering five counties in Middle Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture then issued its own emergency waiver for fuel quality standards consistent with the EPA’s. Advice for Consumers Consumers should maintain their normal fuel purchasing and driving patterns to avoid straining the supply of gasoline.
Tennessee’s price gouging laws make it unlawful for individuals and businesses to charge unreasonable prices for essential goods and services including gasoline, food, ice, fuel, generators, lodging, storage space, and other necessities in direct response to a disaster regardless of whether that emergency occurred in Tennessee or elsewhere. The price gouging law makes it unlawful to charge a price that is grossly in excess of the price charged prior to the emergency. This price gouging act is triggered when a disaster is declared by the state or by the federal government. Penalties for violations of the price gouging act are up to $1,000 per violation.
Additionally, the Tennessee Attorney General in conjunction with TDCI’s Division of Consumer Affairs can request that a court issue injunctions and order civil penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation. The state can also seek refunds for consumers. If you have a problem with a business, you can file a complaint at www.tn.gov/consumer or call toll-free 1-800-342-8385. Consumer Affairs has a price gouging online complaint form at: http://tn.gov/commerce/article/consumer-price-gouging-complaint.