WASHINGTON, March 4, 2015 – A group of senators introduced a bill today that would provide an exemption to agricultural service vehicles from hazardous material transportation laws for hauling diesel fuel. Current laws require any driver transporting more than 119 gallons of diesel fuel to obtain a hazardous materials endorsement on their Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Senate Agriculture Committee chair Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduced the bill along with fellow committee member Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who chairs the Senate panel in charge of agricultural appropriations. According to a release from Roberts’ office, the bill “exempts agribusiness participants from the requirement to obtain a hazardous material endorsement, while operating a service vehicle carrying diesel fuel in quantities of 1,000 gallons or less.” The fuel tank must be “clearly marked” to qualify for the exemption, and exempted parties would include custom harvesters, agricultural retailers, employees of agricultural businesses and cooperatives, and producers with a Class A CDL.
In a statement, all three senators said this bill is necessary to help producers avoid excessive government policies.
“Requiring our producers to treat a truck transporting large amounts of diesel fuel in a similar fashion to hauling radioactive material is patently absurd,” Roberts said. He said such regulations are “simply another example of the federal government’s overly burdensome regulations stifling the rural economy.”
Heitkamp said producers should be able to carry out “basic functions” of their jobs such as simple equipment transportation without having to worry about government regulations.
“(This) legislation would make sure our federal regulators differentiate between farmers and harvesters doing a day’s work in field operations, and a semi-truck hauling crude oil,” Heitkamp said, calling the bill “bipartisan” and “commonsense.”
“As a result, our agricultural workers would be able to operate efficiently and have the fuel necessary to harvest their crops,” she added.
Moran said the current regulations are adding “unnecessary costs” to producers in Kansas and across the country.
“As I travel across Kansas visiting with farmers and ranchers, regulatory overreach by the federal government is often cited as the greatest threat to our agriculture producers,” Moran said. “Those who work in the agriculture industry shouldn’t be forced to jump through hoops just to haul the necessary quantities of diesel required to fuel their operations.”
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House support for the bill is expected as well. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, and House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., are expected to introduce companion legislation.
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