Wednesday, March 4, 2015

HR 1043 Introduced – RESPONSE Act

As I mentioned earlier, Rep. Kind (D,WI) introduced HR 1043, the RESPONSE Act of 2015. The bill would add a new subcommittee to FEMA’s National Advisory Council; the Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Subcommittee.

The bill would set a time limit for the existence of the Subcommittee {new §318(d)(9)}. It would be formed within 90 days of passage of the bill and would terminate four years after that enactment. The FEMA Administrator would be authorized to extend the termination date in one year intervals if he determines that additional reports are needed from the Subcommittee.


While the NAC is made up mainly of people from outside of the Federal government {6 USC 318(c)) this bill would require that this new subcommittee would also include representatives from the following federal agencies {new §318(d)(2)}:

● Office of Emergency Communications of the Department of Homeland Security
● Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations of the National Transportation Safety Board
● Federal Railroad Administration
● Transportation Security Administration
● Coast Guard
● Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response 22 of the Environmental Protection Agency
● Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
● Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Subcommittee Focus

The RESPONSE Subcommittee will be required to look at, and make recommendations about, the following topics related to improving emergency responder training and resource allocation for hazardous materials incidents involving railroads {new §318(d)(6)}:

● Quality and application of training for local emergency first responders related to rail hazardous materials incidents;
● Effectiveness of funding levels related to training local emergency responders for rail hazardous materials incidents;
● Strategy for integration of commodity flow studies, mapping, and access platforms for local emergency responders and how to increase the rate of access to the individual responder in existing or emerging communications technology;
● The need for emergency response plans for rail, similar to existing law related to maritime and stationary facility emergency response plans for hazardous materials;
● The need for a rail hazardous materials incident database;
● Increasing access to relevant, useful, and timely information for the local emergency responder for training purposes and in the event of a rail hazardous materials incident; and
● Determination of the most appropriate agencies and offices for the implementation of the recommendations

Companion Bill S 546

A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate, S 546. I’m assuming that it is a companion bill, but a copy has not yet been published. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is taking up the bill in their business meeting today. This is slightly unusual in that Sen. Heitkamp (D,ND) and her 5 cosponsors are all Democrats, but is would certainly seem to indicate that there is bipartisan support for this legislation, at least in the Senate.

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