Rules and Regulations

April 1, 2001
National Industrial Transportation League Committee Endorses NAFTA Bill of Lading The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) Highway Transportation

National Industrial Transportation League Committee Endorses NAFTA Bill of Lading

The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) Highway Transportation Committee has voted 32-3 to endorse the North American Through Bill of Lading. NITL's board of directors is expected to endorse it formally when it meets May 31, 2001, in Monterey CA.

After passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992, the National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade was formed to find ways to harmonize divergent laws in the three nations in order to foster trade within the NAFTA region. The Law Center created a transportation practices committee that included representatives of the three NAFTA governments, carriers in each nation, the insurance industry, staff from the Law Center, and shippers, including NITL members, staff, and counsel. Goals of the committee were to create a motor carrier through bill of lading (including terms and conditions) and a standard operating process to harmonize and facilitate trade among the three NAFTA nations.

The seven-year effort resulted in the North American Through Bill of Lading and related terms and conditions, which:

  • Preserves a shipper's right to contract for services under terms and conditions independently negotiated between carriers and their customers.

  • Honors existing law (including prevailing tax and liability regimes) in the three nations.

  • Clarifies and makes predictable the basis for carrier (and shipper) liability in each nation.

  • Provides notice of liability limits to shippers in all three nations.

  • Clarifies which nation's laws will apply (the nation where carrier first obtains physical possession of the cargo) and where any necessary litigation may take place.

  • Facilitates cross-border processes.

  • Is easily adaptable to e-commerce and customs technology.

  • Provides a standard document and practice adaptable to other surface modes and across Central and South America.

Highway Users CEO Urges Congestion Relief

Policymakers should work to alleviate urban and suburban traffic jams as part of a comprehensive national energy policy, according to Bill Fay, president and chief executive officer of the American Highway Users Alliance.

At the United States Chamber of Commerce's National Energy Summit in Washington DC, Fay said focusing congestion relief efforts on key traffic bottlenecks nationwide could save nearly a billion gallons of fuel annually.

Citing a 1999 study produced for his group by Cambridge Systematics, entitled Unclogging America's Arteries: Prescriptions for Healthier Highways, Fay said improving traffic flow at the nation's 167 worst bottlenecks would cut gasoline and diesel consumption by nearly 20 billion gallons in the next 20 years.

Fay also cited other benefits stemming from fixing the worst traffic bottlenecks, including:

  • Preventing almost 290,000 crashes, including nearly 1,150 fatalities and 141,000 injuries.

  • Nearly halving pollution at the sites, cutting carbon monoxide 45% and smog-causing volatile organic compounds 44%.

  • Slashing CO2 emissions 71%.

  • Reducing delays by an average of 19 minutes per trip — nearly 40 minutes per day for commuters who must negotiate a bottleneck in both morning and evening rush hours.

ExSTARS Reporting Set to Begin May 31

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says the ExSTARS (Excise Summary Terminal Activity Reporting System) program is not subject to the moratorium on pending regulations announced by the Bush administration. The program, which is directed at storage terminal operations, will start as planned.

Speaking to representatives of the Independent Liquid Terminals Association, IRS officials said recently that Congress directed the agency to implement the ExSTARS program. Neither the White House nor the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has any jurisdiction over ExSTARS content or timing.

The only review authority OMB has is over the terminal and carrier reporting forms, and the electronic data interchange (EDI) guide the IRS is issuing, to ensure that documents conform to requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act. Since OMB approval of the forms and EDI guide ran late, the IRS anticipates the revised compliance schedule will begin as follows:

  • March — Record only end-of-month inventory.

  • April — Record required receipts and disbursements for this month, the first full month of compliance.

  • May — April report (electronic or paper) is to be submitted to the IRS by May 31, 2001.

ExSTARS is a fuels reporting program developed by the IRS. Terminal operators (third-party, pipeline, and propriety marketing terminals such as heating oil bulk plants) and bulk carriers (including pipeline companies and vessel or barge operators) are required to file monthly reports, called Fuel Transaction Reports. The IRS wants electronic filing of all reports, but that is not required yet.

The objective of the ExSTARS program is to track all fuel products that move through storage terminals and capture destination state information when the fuel is disbursed through the terminal rack. Terminals holding IRS Form 637 approval must file the reports, which contain transaction details of deliveries, receipts, inventories, and disbursements.

Bush Repeals OSHA Ergonomics Rule

President George W Bush has signed a repeal of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ergonomics rule that targeted repetitive strain injuries in the workplace. However, opponents feared the bill would be both ineffectual and costly to implement.

OSHA had estimated a cost to all businesses of $4.5 billion, but that was considered a gross underestimate by many industry officials. The agency also estimated the rule would save $9 billion a year by reducing injuries and time away from work.

The American Trucking Associations estimated the rule would have cost the trucking industry alone $6.5 billion a year.

Bush signed the repeal after the Senate and House voted March 6 and March 7, respectively, to reverse the regulation issued by former President Bill Clinton at the time he was leaving office. The Senate voted 56-44 while the House voted 223-206.

The issue is expected to be returned to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao for further consideration.

Court Postpones Interstate Commerce Ruling

New Jersey's federal district court has postponed judgment in a case that pits the American Trucking Associations (ATA) against a regulation banning interstate truck travel on New Jersey's highway system.

Under the regulation, trucks involved in “intrastate access travel” are free to use the state's highway system, but trucks involved in “interstate through travel” are limited to using federal highways. The ATA says this violates the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution by favoring in-state economic interests over out-of-state interests. However, the court said it needed more data before issuing a decision on the regulation's discriminatory effects.

Diesel Anti-Pollution Rule Will Be Enforced

In one of its first major environmental actions, the Bush administration said it will enforce a new rule that slashes air pollution from diesel trucks and buses. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation was prepared in the waning days of the Clinton administration.

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced the decision March 1, and said the decision to implement the rule was made to protect public health and the environment. She added that the diesel rule can help states meet 1997 smog and fine-particle standards at issue in the Supreme Court ruling February 28 that backed the EPA over the American Trucking Associations.

The rule requires the nation's oil refineries to remove 97% of sulfur from diesel fuel between 2006 and 2009. Beginning with the 2007 model year, diesel-powered trucks and buses must be equipped with engines that produce 90% fewer emissions of particle soot. Nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel engines must be cut 95% by 2010. The rule takes effect March 18, 2001.

The EPA estimates that the new rules, when fully in effect, will eliminate 2.6 million tons of smog-producing chemicals and 110,000 tons of soot from heavy-duty trucks and buses each year. The EPA also estimates that the rule will raise costs of new diesel vehicles by $1,200 to $1,900. Fuel costs attributed to the regulation are expected to increase by four to five cents a gallon.

However, industry officials cautioned that the cost may be much higher. Representatives from the oil industry warned that needed refinery modifications could be so costly that they will result in fuel shortages that will hurt the entire US economy.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) also criticized the EPA action. ATA believes it is in the nation's best interest to have one national fuel standard, according to Walter B McCormick, ATA president. However, EPA has failed to address ATA's concerns that the diesel fuel supply will be adequate and that proper distribution systems will be in place.

ATA has told EPA that to achieve the cleanest, most cost-effective, and equitable protection of our air, EPA should mandate cleaner fuel for all diesel engine users, something EPA's diesel fuel rule does not address. For instance, train locomotives are not part of the rule at this time.

Review Puts Wetlines Proposal in Limbo

A proposed rule requiring unprotected external piping on cargo tanks to be emptied before transport was sent to the Office of Management and Budget in December 2000, but was withdrawn from review in February. Reportedly, the proposal will remain at the Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) until an internal review can be finished by a Bush administration appointee.

RSPA officials contend that product-laden loading lines, also called wetlines, are vulnerable to impact caused by collisions. The tank truck industry has argued that accidents involving wetlines are infrequent and that eliminating wetlines will be extremely costly.

While exact provisions of the proposed rule have not been disclosed, comments by RSPA officials suggest that the agency believes technology-based solutions are available. In addition, a retrofit requirement is a virtual certainty.

Discussions about wetlines typically focus on tank trucks and tank trailers used to transport gasoline and other refined petroleum. Semitrailers have up to five compartments, each with their own loading/unloading line, and the lines typically are clustered on the curb side.

Aluminum cargo tanks predominate in the United States petroleum market, and the product piping is aluminum. Depending on length and diameter, each pipe will hold 25 to 50 gallons of product. As much as 250 gallons of product remains in the wetlines of a five-compartment trailer.