Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hazmat Cooperative Research Act

Last week Rep Elijah Cummings (D, MD) introduced HR 1013, the Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Act of 2009. The bill would require the Secretary of Transportation to establish a $5 Million per year research program covering hazmat transportation issues that transcend the transportation mode and government jurisdiction. The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Science and Technology for consideration. Congressional Findings As with any well designed legislation establishing a new program, this proposed bill sets forth the facts that justify the program. Section 2 of the legislation sets out five sets of facts that lead to the conclusion in § 2(6) that: “There is a documented need for the establishment of a cooperative research program that will engage all modes and actors, both public and private, involved in the transportation of hazardous materials in conducting cross-cutting assessments of hazardous materials transportation issues that are national and multi-modal in scope and application.” Governing Board Section 3 of the bill requires the Secretary of Transportation to establish a governing board to oversee the research program. The Department of Transportation will provide a voting member for the board from each of the operating agencies that are concerned with the transportation of hazardous materials. The EPA, DHS and the Department of Energy will also provide voting members. The Secretary will appoint nine additional voting members to the governing board; they will represent a variety of designated state and local government agencies, labor organizations and private industry. Additionally, there will be the obligatory additional representatives “as the Secretary considers appropriate” {§ 3(b)(20)}. Research Studies The research studies selected by the governing board will look at hazardous material transportation subjects that are not adequately addressed by existing research programs. Section 3(c) requires that priority be given to “research studies that will yield results immediately applicable to risk analysis and mitigation or that will strengthen the ability of first responders to respond to incidents and accidents involving transportation of hazardous materials”. The Secretary of Transportation will make grants to the National Academy of Sciences to complete the studies selected by the governing board. The bill authorizes the appropriation of $5 Million per year for the years 2010 thru 2013. It specifically specifies that the funds are to remain available until expended.

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