Thursday, January 10, 2013

Reader Comment – 1-10-13 – Long Term Agenda

A long time reader of this blog and noted blogger on topics maritime, John C. W. Bennett, left a comment on an earlier blog post about the 2012 Unified Agenda. He noted that the “USCG Top Screen Rulemaking may not be in the Unified Agenda, but it's still in the Regulatory Plan, but under the Long Term Actions category”. He then went on to point out a couple of long term rulemakings by the Coast Guard that he thought would be of interest to readers of this blog.

I went back to take a closer look at the OMB web page for the Unified Agenda, and sure enough they have separated out the “Current Long Term Actions” from the remainder of the Agenda. This is the first time that OMB has separated this part of the list. So looking at the Long Term Agency Rule List we find another whole list of rulemakings for DHS. The table below shows six of those potential rules that might be of specific interest to readers of this blog.

Ammonium Nitrate Security Program
Top Screen Information Collection From MTSA-Regulated Facilities Handling Chemicals
Revision to Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Requirements for Mariners
2012 Liquid Chemical Categorization Updates
Protection of Sensitive Security Information (SSI)
Drivers Licensed by Canada or Mexico Transporting Hazardous Materials To and Within the United States

DHS Long-Term Rule List

New to List

Only one of these potential rulemaking actions is new to the Agenda, the Coast Guard 2012 Liquid Chemical Categorization Updates. According to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) of the OMB the purpose of this rule would be to “update information contained in 46 CFR parts 30, 150, 151, 153, and 154 text and tables about the characteristics of liquid chemical cargoes”. The abstract explains that:

“The updating would be based on: The latest "Provisional Categorization of Liquid Substances" Circular (MEPC.2/Circ. 17; Dec. 17, 2011) of the MEPC and the March 2012 Annex to the IBC Code; Coast Guard approvals of liquid chemical cargoes for domestic-only carriage; and on Coast Guard information about chemicals that are either no longer being manufactured or no longer shipped by bulk on vessels.”

The Coast Guard has not yet determined if an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) or an NPRM is more appropriate for this rulemaking. And there is no time frame provided for when the first action might be expected.

Action to be Determined

The ‘action to be determined’ tag has been assigned to two potential other rulemakings as well; the SSI rule and the Hazmat driver’s license rule. In both cases there is already an interim final rule in place, from 2004 and 2006 respectively. So the rulemakings could take the form of an amendment to the existing rule or a move towards a final rule. I don’t expect to see any changes to the status quo any time soon.

Date to be Determined

The Coast Guard knows that it wants to issue an NPRM for the MTSA Top Screen Rule, it just isn’t sure when it plans on getting around to doing it. To be fair, since this is only an information collection exercise, it rates a pretty low priority on the Coast Guard’s list of things to do. The fact that the CFATS program is having problems of its own can’t be helping to raise priority of this rulemaking.

Later this Year

The remaining rulemaking actions have actual dates listed for when the next rulemaking activity is expected. I have already discussed the final rule projection for the ammonium nitrate security program rule. The Coast Guard’s revision of its TWIC requirements, required to implement §809 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, as a notice of proposed rulemaking is expected to be published in October of this year.

Neither date is set in stone; or even loose sand. The Coast Guard does have a slightly better reputation for the timeliness of their rulemakings than does NPPD, but neither are paragons of promptness. The ammonium nitrate rule will be more costly, both to DHS and the public, so there will be additional pressures to delay that rulemaking. The only certainty is that we will see them if/when they are published in the Federal Register.

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