Avoid painful noncompliance fines and optimize fuel-supply performance
by Peter J. Cochefski
November 17, 2015

Federal and local governments are serious about enforcement of the newly established diesel fuel and air quality laws. Just ask the California-based trucking firm that received a noncompliance fine of more than $500,000. Modern fuel management systems have been developed to comply with complicated compliance issues for fleets managing their own fuel distribution.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) that levied the fine for noncompliance with several heavy-duty diesel (HDD) programs within the trucking fleet is just one institution in one state that is showing a commitment to increased enforcement on motor carriers.

Noncompliance impact is both costly and demanding on implementing a reactive compliance program. For reference, take the example of the California-based trucking fleet that was found to be in violation and must now demonstrate compliance. Additionally, the fleet must designate an individual to attend classes on existing regulations, as well as maintenance procedures for emission control equipment. The fleet is also now required to submit annual smoke testing reports and install "Low NOx" software on particular model year engines. Depending on the size of the fleet, it only takes one noncompliance fuel issue violation like this one.

The U.S. fuel compliance program targets all parties in the distribution system, which includes fleet operators with their own dispensing pumps. Not all compliance is environmental, though. Motor vehicle fuels are subject to fuel tax, but nonroad fuels are exempt. For tax purposes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and some state governments have established their own enforcement programs to ensure nonroad fuels are not used to refuel on-road vehicles.

The truth is, many fleets that maintain their own fuel storage operations may find themselves in court due to noncompliance issues associated with their fuel supply. For a fleet manager who gets cited for federal, state or local violations, the tough part to swallow is that many companies simply do not have the resources available to assign a compliance specialist.

For the fleet manager, his way may be working overall, but there could be enough inefficiency in his approach that it may be costing his company thousands of dollars a year in fuel, equipment maintenance, liability and compliance costs.

Fleet owners may find themselves faced with financial losses due to extensive dispenser downtime or an environmental disaster. The answer to all of these concerns can be found in the technology driving today's automated fuel management services.

Whether it is an aboveground or underground storage tank (UST), chances are there is a long list of technical standards regarding the compliance of tank facilities cited within state statutes, rules and other permits for inspection.

Many noncompliance violations do not come from fleets intending to skirt the law, but from fleets who unknowingly miss inspection deadlines, let permits lapse or are unaware of the numerous environmental regulations.

So, how do you avoid the painful fines associated with the noncompliance of regulations when you cannot afford to hire someone to monitor issues at all times? Consider looking at a modern, automated fuel management system.

Automated fuel management systems are designed to track and update compliance data and incidents constantly. They continuously monitor all required functions, parameters and issues to assure more thorough, efficient compliance without increasing the amount of employee interactions.

Compliance management details continue to become more complicated. These regulations can be minute, but the fines for violations are anything but small. Fuel releases from USTs, spills, overfills or leaking tanks and piping can cause fires or explosions that threaten safety. Releases from USTs can also contaminate the groundwater. Stay on top of fuel storage regulations by minimizing your vulnerability to miss or misunderstand a deadline or necessary permit. Automated fuel management systems can provide:

  • Automated fuel tracking
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Alarm management
  • Contractor database management

Fuel management services can be an integrated solution to manage all activities associated with purchasing, moving and storing fuel. Centralized computer-based fuel management can be a crucial piece in the optimization of supply-chain efficiencies and overall fuel-supply performance for fuel-site operators.