[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 243 (Monday, December 20, 1999)]
[Pages 71184-71186]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-32911]

[[Page 71184]]



Office of Motor Carrier Safety
[OMCS Docket No. OMCS-99-5867]

Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Ford Motor 
Company's Exemption Applications; Minimum Fuel Tank Fill Rate and 
Certification Labeling

AGENCY: Office of Motor Carrier Safety (OMCS), DOT.

ACTION: Grant of applications for exemptions.


SUMMARY: The OMCS is granting the applications of the Ford Motor 
Company (Ford) for exemptions from certain fuel tank design and 
certification labeling requirements in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Regulations (FMCSRs). The exemptions enable motor carriers to operate 
commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) manufactured by Ford, and equipped 
with fuel tanks that do not meet the OMCS' requirements that fuel tanks 
be capable of receiving fuel at a rate of at least 20 gallons per 
minute, and be labeled or marked by the manufacturer to certify 
compliance with the design criteria. The OMCS believes the terms and 
conditions of the exemptions achieve a level of safety that is 
equivalent to the level of safety that would be achieved by complying 
with the regulations. The exemptions preempt inconsistent State and 
local requirements applicable to interstate commerce.

DATES: The exemptions are effective on December 20, 1999. The 
exemptions expire on December 20, 2001.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Larry W. Minor, Office of Motor 
Carrier Safety, HMCS-10, (202) 366-4009; or Mr. Charles E. Medalen, 
Office of the Chief Counsel, HCC-20, (202) 366-1354, Federal Highway 
Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, D.C. 20590-0001. 
Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., e.t., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.


Electronic Access

    Internet users may access all comments that were submitted to the 
Docket Clerk, U.S. DOT Dockets, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20590-0001, in response to the previous notice 
concerning the docket referenced at the beginning of this notice by 
using the universal  resource  locator  (URL): http://dms.dot.gov. It 
is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. Please follow the 
instructions online for more information and help.
    An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded using a modem 
and suitable communications software from the Government Printing 
Office's Electronic Bulletin Board Service at (202) 512-1661. Internet 
users may reach the Office of the Federal Register's home page at 
http://www.nara.gov/fedreg and the Government Printing Office's 
database at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara.

Creation of New Agency

    Section 338 of the FY 2000 Department of Transportation and Related 
Agencies Appropriations Act prohibits the expenditure of any funds 
appropriated by that Act ``to carry out the functions and operations of 
the Office of Motor Carriers within the Federal Highway 
Administration'' (Public Law 106-69, October 9, 1999, 113 Stat. 986, at 
1022). Section 338 further provides that, if the authority of the 
Secretary of Transportation on which the functions and operations of 
the Office of Motor Carriers are based is redelegated outside the FHWA, 
the funds available to that Office under the Act may be transferred and 
expended to support its functions and operations.
    The Secretary has rescinded the authority previously delegated to 
the FHWA to perform motor carrier functions and operations. This 
authority has been redelegated to the Director, Office of Motor Carrier 
Safety (OMCS), a new office within the Department of Transportation (64 
FR 56270, October 19, 1999).
    The motor carrier functions of the FHWA's Resource Centers and 
Division (i.e., State) Offices have been transferred to OMCS Resource 
Centers and OMCS Division Offices, respectively. Rulemaking, 
enforcement and other activities of the Office of Motor Carrier and 
Highway Safety while part of the FHWA will be continued by the OMCS. 
The redelegation will cause no changes in the motor carrier functions 
and operations previously handled by the FHWA. For the time being, all 
phone numbers and addresses are unchanged.


    On June 9, 1998, the President signed the Transportation Equity Act 
for the 21st Century (TEA-21) (Pub. L. 105-178, 112 Stat. 107). Section 
4007 of TEA-21, entitled ``Waivers, Exemptions, and Pilot Programs,'' 
amended 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e) concerning the Secretary of 
Transportation's (the Secretary's) authority to grant exemptions from 
the FMCSRs. An exemption may be up to two years in duration, and may be 
    Section 4007 of the TEA-21 requires the OMCS to publish a notice in 
the Federal Register for each exemption requested, explaining that the 
request has been filed, and providing the public an opportunity to 
inspect the safety analysis and any other relevant information known to 
the agency, and comment on the request. Prior to granting a request for 
an exemption, the agency must publish a notice in the Federal Register 
identifying the person or class of persons who will receive the 
exemption, the provisions from which the person will be exempt, the 
effective period, and all terms and conditions of the exemption. The 
terms and conditions established by the OMCS must ensure that the 
exemption will likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, 
or greater than, the level that would be achieved by complying with the 
    On December 8, 1998, the FHWA published an interim final rule 
implementing section 4007 of TEA-21 (63 FR 67600). The regulations (49 
CFR part 381) established the procedures to be followed to request 
waivers and apply for exemptions from the FMCSRs, and the procedures 
used to process them.
    As indicated earlier in this notice, the Secretary has rescinded 
the authority previously delegated to the FHWA to carry out motor 
carrier functions and operations. Therefore, the regulations issued by 
the FHWA are now regulations of the OMCS. On October 29, 1999 (64 FR 
58355), the OMCS issued a final rule amending the heading for chapter 
III of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations to reflect the 
organizational changes.

Ford's Applications for Exemptions

    Ford applied for exemptions from 49 CFR 393.67(c)(7)(ii), which 
requires that certain fuel tank systems on CMVs be designed to permit a 
fill rate of at least 20 gallons (75.7 liters) per minute, and 49 CFR 
393.67(f)(2) and (f)(3), which require that liquid fuel tanks be marked 
with the manufacturer's name and a certification that the tank conforms 
to all applicable rules in Sec. 393.67, respectively.
    On August 10, 1999 (64 FR 43417), the FHWA published a notice of 
intent to grant Ford's applications. The FHWA requested public comment 
on Ford's applications and the agency's safety analysis, and presented 
other relevant information known to the agency.

Discussion of Comments to the Notice of Intent to Grant the 

    The FHWA received, and the OMCS has reviewed, comments from Collins

[[Page 71185]]

Industries, Inc., El Dorado National, General Motors Corporation (GM), 
and the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA). All of the 
commenters agreed with the preliminary decision to grant exemptions for 
motor carriers operating certain vehicles manufactured by Ford. Collins 
Industries stated:

    As a body builder of school buses and commercial buses it has 
been our [experience] that Ford's internal design standards lead the 
industry in the safety and function. If Ford feels that 17 [gallons 
per minute] is the fastest fill rate to be used on their fuel tanks 
then I support that decision. I see how higher fill rates may cause 
safety issues from excess fuel spillage but can see no reason that 
slowing fill rates can compromise safety.
    We would prefer to use the fuel tank as supplied by Ford. The 
labeling requirements of 393.67 are issues to be addressed by tank 
manufacturers that supply tanks to general applications. Ford 
designs its tanks to fit specific spatial constraints in its 
vehicles. No increase in safety beyond Ford's internal design 
constraints is required.

    El Dorado National believes the rate at which a fuel tank may be 
filled has no bearing on the safe operation of the vehicle, or safety 
during the refueling process. El Dorado National stated that ``[t]he 
tanks in question will accept fuel at a rate that the typical 
commercial unleaded fuel pumps deliver * * *.''
    On the subject of labeling of fuel tanks, El Dorado National 
indicated that ``[s]ince these vehicle tanks are tested, certified, and 
mass produced it does not seem relevant to label each tank.'' El Dorado 
National believes the absence of a certification label would not 
compromise safety.
    The NTEA indicated that it is not aware of any safety-related 
problems that have or would occur as a result of the current fuel 
system design on the Ford vehicles in question.
    General Motors Corporation supports granting exemptions from the 
fuel tank fill rate, and certification labeling requirements for motor 
carriers operating certain vehicles manufactured by  Ford.  GM  
indicated  that  its  G  and C/K vehicles also have fuel tanks that do 
not meet the OMCS' requirements concerning the fill rate, marking and 
certification labeling. GM's comments included a request for an 
exemption to these requirements for motor carriers operating certain 
GM-manufactured vehicles. As part of the justification for an exemption 
for its vehicles, GM argued that the use of automatic shut-off valves 
on fuel dispensing pumps makes it unlikely that significant amounts of 
fuel will be spilled in the event that a vehicle is fueled at a fill 
rate exceeding the fuel system's capacity. The OMCS will publish a 
separate notice at a later date requesting public comment on GM's 
application for an exemption.

OMCS Decision

    The OMCS has considered all the comments received in response to 
the August 10 notice of intent and has decided to grant the exemptions.

Exemption from Sec. 393.67(c)(7)(ii)

    The OMCS has reviewed its fill pipe design requirements and has 
concluded that the fill-pipe capacity criterion, when applied to 
gasoline-powered vehicles, is inconsistent with the Environmental 
Protection Agency's (EPA) regulations 1 concerning gasoline 
fuel pumps. While the OMCS requirement may be appropriate for diesel 
fuel-powered commercial motor vehicles, it mandates that fill pipes on 
gasoline-powered vehicles be capable of receiving fuel at twice the 
maximum rate gasoline fuel pumps are designed to dispense fuel.

    \1\ The EPA requires (40 CFR 80.22) that every retailer and 
wholesale purchaser-consumer must limit each nozzle from which 
gasoline or methanol is introduced into motor vehicles to a maximum 
fuel flow rate not to exceed 10 gallons per minute (37.9 liters per 
minute). Any dispensing pump that is dedicated exclusively to heavy-
duty vehicles is exempt from the requirement.

    Since the EPA's regulation includes an exemption for dispensing 
pumps used exclusively for refueling heavy-duty vehicles, it is 
possible that some of the gasoline-powered vehicles that would be 
exempted could be refueled at a location (e.g., at a fleet terminal) 
where the dispensing equipment exceeds 10 gallons per minute. However, 
the OMCS does not believe this will present a safety problem because 
the fill pipe design used by Ford is capable of receiving fuel at a 
rate of 17 gallons per minute. The 17-gallon-per-minute rate is only 15 
percent less than the requirement in Sec. 393.65. Accordingly, the 
agency concludes that the 17-gallon-per-minute rate will achieve a 
level of safety that is equivalent to the level of safety that would be 
obtained by complying with Sec. 393.67(c)(7)(ii).
    The OMCS agrees with GM's comments concerning the use of automatic 
shut-off valves on fuel dispensing pumps. The use of such technology 
minimizes the risk that a significant amount of fuel will be spilled 
even in the event that one of the vehicles in question is refueled 
using a pump exempt from the EPA requirement.
    The OMCS also reviewed available information on the origin of the 
fill-pipe rule. The 20-gallon per minute rate in Sec. 393.67(c)(7)(ii) 
is based on the Society of Automotive Engineers' (SAE) recommended 
practice ``Side Mounted Gasoline Tanks'' as revised in 1949. The SAE 
later published fuel tank manufacturing practices in SAE J703, ``Fuel 
Systems,'' an information report which consisted of the former 
Interstate Commerce Commission's requirements for fuel systems and 
tanks (codified at 49 CFR 193.65 in the 1953 edition of the Code of 
Federal Regulations). The information report retained the 20-gallon-
per-minute rate. The SAE currently covers this subject under 
recommended practice SAE J703 ``Fuel Systems--Truck and Truck 
Tractors.'' The 1995 version of the recommended practice continues to 
use the 20-gallon-per-minute criterion for fill pipes.
    The OMCS does not have technical documentation explaining the 
rationale for the SAE's original use of the 20-gallon-per-minute rate 
in 1949 and believes the adoption of the criterion in Federal 
regulations may have resulted in its continued use in the current SAE 
recommended practice which references Secs. 393.65 and 393.67. As 
stated by the SAE, ``[t]he intent of this document is not only to 
clarify the procedures and reflect the best currently known practices, 
but also to prescribe requirements * * * that meet or exceed all 
corresponding performance requirements of FMCSR 393.65 and 393.67 that 
were in effect at the time of issue.''
    The OMCS believes the current requirement may need to be 
reconsidered in light of the EPA requirements. While the OMCS reviews 
this issue, motor carriers should not be penalized for operating 
vehicles with non-compliant fill pipes that they had no practical means 
of identifying. Therefore, the agency is exempting interstate motor 
carriers operating Ford Econoline vehicles from Sec. 393.67(c)(7)(ii).

Exemption from Secs. 393.67(f)(2) and (f)(3)(ii)

    With regard to the exemption from the fuel tank marking and 
certification requirements (Secs. 393.67(f)(2) and (f)(3)(ii)), the 
OMCS agrees with the arguments presented in Ford's application, and the 
comments from GM and El Dorado National that there is no readily 
apparent adverse impact on safety associated with the absence of the 
required markings. However, the agency continues to believe marking and 
certification are important for helping enforcement officials and motor 
carriers quickly distinguish between fuel tanks that are certified as 
meeting the OMCS'

[[Page 71186]]

requirements and those that are not. For cases in which the fuel tank 
is manufactured and installed by the vehicle manufacturer, and 
maintained by the motor carrier, there appears to be little need for 
marking and certification. The need would typically be greatest for 
replacement or aftermarket fuel tanks manufactured by an entity other 
than the original equipment manufacturer. Since there is no practicable 
means for motor carriers and enforcement officials to make a 
distinction between original and aftermarket fuel tanks, marking and 
certifications are necessary.
    The OMCS does not believe the operators of the Ford Econoline 
vehicles should be penalized because the fuel tanks are not marked and 
certified in accordance with Sec. 393.67. Accordingly, the agency is 
exempting interstate motor carriers from Secs. 393.67(f)(2) and 
(f)(3)(ii) which require that liquid fuel tanks be marked with the 
manufacturer's name, and a certification that the tank conforms to all 
applicable rules in Sec. 393.67, respectively.

Terms and Conditions for the Exemption

    The OMCS is providing exemptions to Secs. 393.67(c)(7)(ii), 
393.67(f)(2), and 393.67(f)(3)(ii) for motor carriers operating Ford 
Econoline-based vehicles. The exemptions are effective upon publication 
pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) and are valid until December 20, 2001, 
unless revoked earlier by the OMCS. Ford, or any of the affected motor 
carriers, may apply to the OMCS for a renewal of the exemption. The 
exemption preempts inconsistent State or local requirements applicable 
to interstate commerce.
    The motor carriers operating these vehicles are not required to 
maintain documentation concerning the exemption because the vehicles 
and fuel tanks have markings that would enable enforcement officials to 
identify them. The vehicles covered by the exemptions can be identified 
by their vehicle identification numbers (VINs). The VINs contain E30, 
E37, E39, E40, or E47 codes in the fifth, sixth, and seventh positions. 
The fuel tanks are marked with Ford part numbers F3UA-9002-G*, F3UA-
9002-H*, F4UA-9002-V*, F4UA-9002-X*, F5UA-9002-V*, F5UA-9002-X*, F6UA-
9002-Y*, F6UA-9002-Z*, F7UA-9002-C*, and F7UA-9002D* where the asterisk 
(*) represents a ``wild card'' character (any character of the 

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 31136 and 31315; and 49 CFR 1.73.

    Issued on: December 14, 1999.
Julie Anna Cirillo,
Acting Director, Office of Motor Carrier Safety.
[FR Doc. 99-32911 Filed 12-17-99; 8:45 am]