A fuel shortage in Minnesota ahead of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year prompted Gov. Tim Walz to sign an emergency executive order temporarily lifting some restrictions for commercial vehicles that deliver petroleum products.
The governor’s office said the fuel shortage is caused by “unanticipated events” at refineries in other states disrupting the normal supply of gasoline and other petroleum products.
Officials from the state Department of Commerce, which monitors the state’s fuel supply, weren’t available for comment Thursday. But, according to the department, the state’s motor gasoline inventory dramatically dropped at the end of May and throughout June.
Besides motorists, people ranging from farmers to ATV drivers and boaters rely on the state’s fuel supply.
The executive order, signed Wednesday, will remain in effect until Aug. 2 or until direct assistance ends.
It granted a temporary exemption from the hours of service requirements for drivers of commercial vehicles that receive and deliver gasoline, diesel fuel or fuel oil.
Without the order, the governor’s office said motorists could be at risk of being stranded during their holiday weekend travels.
The executive order isn’t an unusual step; the governor has issued similar orders before, such as lifting state restrictions to help commercial drivers get fertilizer to Minnesota farmers after a fertilizer shortage this spring.
This week’s executive order was requested by the Minnesota Petroleum Marketers Association, which didn’t return messages asking for comment Thursday.
Across the U.S., a record-breaking 49 million people were expected to travel on July 4th this year, mostly by car, according to AAA, citing factors such as lower gas prices and rising disposable incomes.