Federal regulations just keep coming

July 1, 2003 By    

Even this Republican administration is creating new regulations for hazmat carriers and others in the propane business.

First of all, it introduced a reauthorization bill for the Transportation Equity Act. The proposal would allow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials to stop trucks on the road for inspection. FSMCA also could revoke carriers’ registration for routine non-compliance or cover-up.

The bill would apply hazmat rules (including training requirements) beyond carriers to anyone who prepares, accepts or rejects shipment, those who certify compliance and supervisors, brokers, freight haulers and agents. It also would increase penalties for recordkeeping and out-of-service violations. But the bill would also start a new research and technology program to improve safety.

Congress is required to reauthorize surface transportation programs this year, but the legislation faces several major hurdles. Because the bill will include hundreds of billions of dollars for many transportation projects, nine House committees can consider it. And since money is tight this year, lawmakers may end up passing a one-year extension of current law and dealing with the matter next year.

A few other regulatory proposals from the Bush administration:

  • The Research & Special Programs Administration revised requirements for maintenance and requalification of cylinders. The agency declined the National Propane Gas Association’s request to redefine the standards, which require cylinders to be “commercially free of corrosive components” and allows external visual inspection in place of a pressure test. Details are in the May 8 Federal Register.
  • The Federal Trade Commission proposed updating its labeling requirements for alternative fuels and alternative fueled vehicles. FTC wants to change emission certification standards and add a reference to the Environmental Protection Agency’s green vehicle guide (www.epa.gov/greenvehicle). Current rules will become obsolete with 2004 vehicle models. Details are in the May 8 Federal Register.
  • FTC amended its appliance labeling rule to include the latest figures for average unit energy costs. The cost for propane is $1.21/gallon (91,333 Btu), or $13.25 per million Btu. Details are in the May 5 Federal Register.
  • RSPA issued interim rules requiring hazmat shippers to comply with federal motor carrier rules. It also requires that shippers applying for exemptions certify compliance with all rules. Details are in the May 5 Federal Register.
  • The Transportation Security Administration set interim security assessment standards to determine whether individuals applying for hazmat endorsements for commercial drivers licenses pose security threats. The rules also set procedures for seeking waivers from the standards and appealing determination of a threat. Details: May 5 Federal Register.
  • RSPA released the paperwork requirements for its new Hazardous Materials Security Plans for shippers and carriers. For a copy, contact Deborah Boothe, Office of Hazardous Materials Standards (DNM-10), RSPA, Room 8422, 400 7th St. SW, Washington, DC 20590.

Breifly Speaking

  • Stock build
    The House Science Committee has approved a bill to fund a $300 million, three-year Clean School Bus Pilot Program, which could include grants to school districts to try propane-powered vehicles.
    The bill also includes a $200 million pilot program for state and local governments to try alternative vehicles and related infrastructure.
  • Stock build
    Another effort is underway to study energy price spikes. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Consumer & Small Business Energy Commission Act, which would study drastic increases in the costs of propane and other fuels and recommend ways to avoid them.

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