NTTC asks LaHood to halt costly, damaging hazmat reg proposals

National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) has asked Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to withdraw two regulatory proposals that meet the criteria of President Barack Obama’s commitment to eliminate unnecessary costly regulations. In his jobs speech to a joint session of Congress, the President said: “and I agree that there are some rules and regulations that put an unnecessary burden on businesses at a time when they can least afford it.”

In a recent letter, the tank truck association suggested to Secretary LaHood that both the HM231D wetlines proposed rule and the HM241 “adoption by reference” proposal are not only unnecessary, but both could actually have a negative impact on safety. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) currently has “estimated action dates” of December 2011 for its HM-241 “adoption by reference” rulemaking and May 2012 for HM-213 wetlines.

The letter pointed out that even within the US Congress there is a belief that the wetlines rule is not needed. The Chairman and Ranking Member of the House T&I Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee urged PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman earlier this year urged to drop further actions related to the HM-213D wetlines rulemaking.

Even more potentially damaging to the tank truck industry would be HM-241, according to the NTTC letter. Briefly, HM-241 would remove key safety regulations from 49 CFR that govern the construction, operation, test and inspection, and repair of specification cargo tanks and turn over those regulatory responsibilities to a private entity. The current open regulatory process (that encourages public comment and participation) would be replaced by one where a private entity ordained by PHMSA in a no-bid process would develop and copyright regulations that DOT would adopt by reference.

In the letter, NTTC officials wrote: “Neither of these regulations was actually initiated by your agency for safety reasons, but rather, in one case, resulted from intense Congressional pressure and in the other were in response to petitions from an industry group that would financially benefit tremendously if its petitions are granted.”

The letter also noted that NTTC is a true safety advocacy organization that has worked closely with the Department of Transportation (DOT) for many years to develop a hazardous materials transportation system that is now the envy of the world.

“While we do not expect the Secretary to get personally involved in the minutia of these proposals, we do hope that his office will at least raise the issues with the PHMSA and, more importantly, tell the agency that the DOT “has its back” should a withdrawal of the rules be attacked by political opponents,” says John Conley, NTTC president.

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