[Federal Register: April 26, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 81)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
[FMCSA Docket No. FMCSA-99-6285 (formerly OMCS-99-6285)]
Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; General
Motors Corporation's Exemption Application; Minimum Fuel Tank Fill Rate
and Certification Labeling
AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION: Grant of application for exemption.
SUMMARY: The FMCSA is granting the application of the General Motors
Corporation (GM) for an exemption from certain fuel tank design and
certification labeling requirements in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Regulations (FMCSRs). The exemption enables motor carriers to operate
commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) manufactured by GM, and equipped with
fuel tanks that do not meet the FMCSA's 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 FMCSA believes the terms and conditions of the
exemption achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to the level of
safety that would be achieved by complying with the regulations. The
exemption preempts inconsistent State and local requirements applicable
to interstate commerce.
DATES: The exemption is effective on May 26, 2000. The exemption
expires on May 26, 2002.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Larry W. Minor, Office of Bus and
Truck Standards and Operations, (202) 366-4009, Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-
0001; or Mr. Charles E. Medalen, Office of the Chief Counsel, HCC-20,
(202) 366-1354, Federal Highway Administration, 400 Seventh Street,
SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001. Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15
p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
Internet users may access all comments 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 this subject 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
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
On December 9, 1999, the President signed the Motor Carrier Safety
Improvement Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-159, 113 Stat. 1748). The new
statute established the FMCSA in the Department of Transportation. On
January 4, 2000, the Office of the Secretary published a final rule
rescinding the authority previously delegated to the Office of Motor
Carrier Safety (OMCS) (65 FR 220). This authority is now delegated to
The motor carrier functions of the OMCS's Resource Centers and
Division (i.e., State) Offices have been transferred to FMCSA Service
Centers and FMCSA Division Offices, respectively. Rulemaking,
enforcement and other activities of the Office of Motor Carrier Safety
while part of the FHWA, and while operating independently of the FHWA,
will be continued by the FMCSA. The redelegation will cause no changes
in the motor carrier functions and operations previously handled by the
FHWA or the OMCS. For the time being, all phone numbers and addresses
On June 9, 1998, the President signed the Transportation Equity Act
for the 21st Century (TEA-21) (Public Law 105-178, 112 Stat. 107).
Section 4007 of the TEA-21 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 renewed.
Section 4007 of the TEA-21 requires the FMCSA 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 FMCSA 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 the 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
that will be used to process them.
GM's Application for an Exemption
GM applied for an exemption 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. GM's
application for an exemption was included in its response to the notice
of intent to grant similar exemptions to the Ford Motor Company on
behalf of motor carriers operating certain vehicles manufactured by
Ford (64 FR 43417; August 10, 1999). A copy of GM's application is
included in the docket referenced at the beginning of this notice. GM
indicated that it ``fully supports the FHWA's preliminary determination
to grant an exemption from the requirements of [Secs. ]
393.67(c)(7)(ii), 393.67(f)(2) and 393.67(f)(3)(ii) to [the] Ford Motor
Company'' and requested the exemption on behalf of motor carriers
operating certain vehicles manufactured by GM.
GM produces G-vans (Chevrolet Express and GMC Savanna) and full-
size C/K trucks (Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra) which may be
equipped for numerous uses, including use as a CMV as defined in 49 CFR
390.5. GM argues that exemptions are needed for the same reasons
described in the Ford Motor Company's applications. The OMCS granted
the Ford Motor Company's applications for exemptions on December 20,
1999 (64 FR 71184).
Notice of Application and Proposal To Grant Exemption; Request for
On December 20, 1999 (64 FR 71186), the Office of Motor Carrier
Safety published a notice announcing its proposal to grant GM's
application for an exemption from certain fuel tank design and
certification requirements in the FMCSRs. The notice discussed GM's
application, the basis for proposing to grant the exemption, and
requested public comment from all interested parties.
Discussion of Comments
The FMCSA received comments from El Dorado National and GM. Both
commenters agreed with the preliminary decision to grant an exemption
for motor carriers operating certain vehicles manufactured by GM.
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
The FMCSA has considered the comments received in response to the
December 20, 1999, notice of application and has decided to grant the
Fill-Pipe Capacity Requirement
The FMCSA 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 FMCSA 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
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 FMCSA does not believe this would present a safety problem. The
FMCSA agrees with GM's argument in its application that the use of
automatic shut-off valves on fuel dispensing pumps make it unlikely
that a significant amount of fuel will be spilled if a vehicle is
refueled using a pump that exceeds the vehicle's capacity for receiving
fuel. The agency believes the combination of the EPA regulation
concerning dispensing pumps, and the use of automatic shut-off nozzles
on these pumps ensures a level of safety that is equivalent to the
level of safety that would be obtained by complying with
The FMCSA believes any operational problems experienced by motor
carriers using certain fuel pumps to refill GM vehicles have already
been resolved. The vehicles in questions have been in use for a number
of years and are still being produced. Therefore, motor carriers using
these vehicles have experience refueling them. The FMCSA is not aware
of any safety problems associated with the fill-pipe capacity for the
fuel tanks on GM G and C/K vehicles.
The FMCSA 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 FMCSA 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 FMCSA believes the current requirement may need to be
reconsidered in light of the EPA requirements. While the agency 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 certain GM vehicles from Sec. 393.67(c)(7)(ii).
Fuel Tank Marking and Certification
With regard to an exemption from the fuel tank marking and
certification requirements (Secs. 393.67(f)(2) and (f)(3)(ii)), the
FMCSA does not believe there would be a readily apparent adverse impact
on safety associated with the absence of the required markings.
Although the FMCSA considers marking and certification important for
helping enforcement officials and motor carriers quickly distinguish
between fuel tanks that are certified as meeting the agency's
requirements and those that are not, the agency does not believe the
operators of the GM vehicles should be penalized because the fuel tanks
are not marked and certified in accordance with Sec. 393.67.
As a vehicle manufacturer, GM is fully aware of all applicable
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards issued and enforced by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency in the U.S.
Department of Transportation responsible for regulating motor vehicle
and equipment manufacturers. However, GM may not have had the same
level of awareness about all of the fuel tank requirements of the FMCSA
, the agency responsible for regulating motor carriers.
GM has indicated that its tanks do not meet the fill pipe
requirements, and do not have the necessary certification. An exemption
to the certification is needed because GM cannot misrepresent its
product by certifying compliance with all applicable provisions in
Sec. 393.67 while its fill pipe designs allow approximately 10 gallons
of gasoline fuel per minute to flow into the fuel tank. The agency
believes granting exemptions for the affected motor carriers is the
most effective way to resolve the problem while ensuring highway
Terms and Conditions for the Exemption
The FMCSA is providing an exemption to Secs. 393.67(c)(7)(ii),
393.67(f)(2), and 393.67(f)(3)(ii) for motor carriers operating certain
GM vehicles. The exemption is effective upon publication pursuant to 5
U.S.C. 553(d)(1) and is valid until May 26, 2002, unless revoked
earlier by the FMCSA. GM, or any of the affected motor carriers, may
apply to the FMCSA for a renewal. 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
have markings that would enable enforcement officials to identify them.
The vehicles covered by the exemption can be identified by their
vehicle identification numbers (VINs). The VINs contain ``J'' or ``K''
in the fourth position and a ``1'' in the seventh position.
Authority: 49 U.S.C. 31136 and 31315; and 49 CFR 1.73.
Issued on: April 14, 2000.
Julie Anna Cirillo,
Acting Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 00-10400 Filed 4-25-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-22-P