February 9, 2017 by John Nicholson
In a letter sent on recently to incoming U.S. Secretary of Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, 22 corporations and trade associations sought “the earliest possible approval” of a final rule that would address hazmat transport safety issues by harmonizing the U.S. hazardous materials regulations with international dangerous goods standards that took effect on January 1st, 2017. The White House currently has a regulatory freeze that prevents the any new regulations from becoming law.
The release and publication of U.S. DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration final rule was initially posted on the Federal Register website but was put on hold per the regulatory freeze imposed by the January 20th 2017 White House memorandum to the heads of all federal departments and agencies.
In reference to the harmonization regulation, the letter states: “Its promulgation will not create any new risks in transport. In fact, it will ensure the U.S. hazardous materials regulations maintain alignment with international standards, thus assuring safety and avoiding disruptions to supply chains. Avoidance of such disruption is critically important to all of the undersigned manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, exporters, importers, carriers, and industries.”
“Our endorsement of the regulation also is consistent in our long-standing endorsement of harmonizing the U.S. HMR (hazardous materials regulations) with international standards. Harmonization avoids confusion among shippers, carriers and others in the logistics chain, maximizes safety, and reduces costs for U.S. businesses,” the letter said.
Signatories to the letter include numerous corporations and an array of trade associations representing airlines, battery and electronic product manufacturers, outdoor equipment and power tool manufacturers, the security industry, shippers of dangerous goods, and sporting arms and ammunition manufacturers.
The Rechargeable Battery Association Executive Director, George Kerchner, said trade association members were prepared to comply with the PHMSA regulation’s new labeling, packaging and testing requirements for lithium batteries that match the stringent international standards. “Different regulations create a fog of confusion that undermines safety while forcing companies to comply with inconsistent regulations when shipping domestically and internationally,” Kerchner emphasized.