Monday, February 2, 2015

Hazardous Materials Information Advisory Committee

As I previously noted Rep Lipinski (D,IL) introduced HR 505, the Developing Standards for Electronic Shipping Papers Act of 2015. This bill would require the Secretary of Transportation to form a Hazardous Materials Information Advisory Committee (HMIAC) to develop interim voluntary standards for hazardous materials electronic shipping papers while DOT is going through the rule development process outlined in MAP 21 (49 USC 5121 Note).

The Congressional findings section of the bill (§2) notes that §33005 of the MAP 21 legislation (PL 112-141) passed in 2012 required DOT to undertake a number of pilots of possible electronic shipping papers and then to develop appropriate rulemakings to institute national standards. According to the bill the pilots are not scheduled to be completed until October of this year meaning that it will be a while (years?) before a national standard is developed.

The HMIAC described in this bill would be tasked with developing an interim voluntary standard. It would be given 120 days to publish this standard. This development would include {§4(c)}:

● Development of a voluntary standard for the use of electronic shipping papers until a rulemaking has been completed;
● Establishment of a standardized curriculum for training first responders and enforcement officials in the use of electronic shipping papers and other alternative means of communicating hazardous materials information;
● Providing recommendations and best practices for the use of electronic shipping papers by first responders in varying circumstances and locations;
● Providing recommendations and best practices to assist persons transporting hazardous materials in commerce in implementing electronic shipping papers; and
● Assessing potential issues during deployment phases, including first responder training, technology procurement issues and budget limitations, and biometrics.

Congressman Lipinski is a fairly senior Democrat on the House Transportation Committee so this bill cannot be completely discounted, but it will be an uphill fight to get this bill considered by the Committee. There is nothing that I see in the bill that would necessarily cause any anguish for the Republican leadership so this bill would stand a good chance of passing in both the House and Senate if it were brought to the floor.

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