The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today that states may extend expiring commercial driver’s license (CDL) hazardous material endorsements (HME) for up to four months. The TSA action is important to petroleum marketers and heating fuel dealers because it ensures CDL drivers with expiring HMEs can maintain their licensure without interruption during the coronavirus outbreak. TSA said it is in the public interest to grant an exemption from certain process requirements related to HME renewal given the need for commercial drivers to continue work without interruption during the current COVID-19 crisis. This exemption becomes effective on April 2, 2020, and remains in effect through July 31, 2020, unless otherwise modified by TSA.
PMAA has been working closely with DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and TSA for the past two weeks on the need for an HME extension. Under TSA regulations, a state may not issue or renew an HME for a CDL unless the State first receives a Determination of No Security Threat on the driver from the TSA. Drivers renewing their HME are required to initiate a Security Threat Assessment (STA) at least 60 days before expiration. The process of initiating an STA requires drivers to submit information either to the State licensing agency or to TSA enrollment center, including fingerprints and background information. However, measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 make this process difficult if not impossible for drivers. PMAA told the TSA and PHMSA that an HME exemption is necessary because CDL drivers have been unable to access state licensing agencies or TSA enrollment centers to provide fingerprints and in-person interviews required for HME renewal due to COVID-19 related closures.
The TSA is allowing states to extend the HMEs for up to 180 days. The TSA announcement does not provide an automatic renewal of HMEs nationwide. Instead, each State must issue their own waiver for the automatic extension to become effective within the State. States are expected to grant similar waivers given the inability of drivers to initiate an STA due to COVID-19 closures.
IMPORTANT! PMAA association executives seeking to obtain an HME extension must go through their State agencies responsible for CDL HME licensure. The TSA announcement can be downloaded here.