Friday, April 3, 2015

OMB Publishes Flammable Train ICR Data

Yesterday the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs concluded their actions [added link - 5-14-15 0915 CDT] in support of the information collection request (ICR) requirements for the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) final rule on Flammable Hazardous Materials by Rail Transportation. This is an integral part of OIRA’s final review of that regulation that is still not expected to be published until sometime next month.

The interesting thing in this notification is the data provided [.XLSX download] by PHMSA on the burden this regulation will place on the railroad associated with the reporting requirements of the regulation. The bottom line first year burden data is shown below.

∙ Respondents – 1,612
∙ Responses – 1,801
∙ Hours – 73,622
∙ Cost - $5,393,387

The largest portion of this cost ($4,570,936) will be borne directly by the providers of the mined gases and liquids (including crude oil) to be shipped via rail in the testing and classification reporting process. The remainder of the information collection and reporting cost will be borne by the Class II and Class III railroads in their routing analysis and reporting activities. According to the documentation [.DOCX Download] provided by PHMSA there will be no requirement for such analysis by the Class I railroads.

I would like to think that this is merely an oversight on the part of PHMSA in their ICR documentation. In explaining the routing analysis requirement PHMSA explains (Para 2):

PHMSA is proposing to add § 174.310(b)(1) requiring rail operators to conduct a routing and safety security analysis for HHFTs [highly hazards flammable trains] related to crude oil transportation. Specifically, PHMSA is proposing to require rail carriers compile annual data on specified shipments of hazardous materials, use the data to analyze safety and security risks along rail routes where those materials are transported, assess alternative routing options, and make routing decisions based on those assessments.  This data will in turn be used by State and/or regional Fusion Centers that have been established to coordinate with state, local, and tribal officials on security issues and which are located within the area encompassed by the rail carrier's rail system.

There is nothing there that would seem to exempt Class I railroads from this route analysis requirement. Later in paragraph 12 (burden calculation), however, PHMSA specifically states that:

In performing this analysis the rail carrier must consult with state, local, and tribal officials, as appropriate, regarding security risks to high-consequence targets, countermeasures already in place, and the community emergency response capability along, or in proximity to, the route(s) utilized.  This analysis will be conducted by both Class II and Class III railroads.

Either PHMSA is understating the ICR burden or it does not intend for Class I railroads (who are responsible for the bulk of the miles of crude oil transportation) to conduct the routing analysis that will be required by this new regulation. I hope (and expect) that it is the former.

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