PHMSA HM-215N, International Harmonization, Caught in Regulatory Freeze
February 14, 2017 •
The U.S. Department of Transpiration’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)’s efforts to harmonize international transport standards has been halted by last month’s White House-issued memorandum. The memorandum directs agency/department heads to withhold sending any regulations to the Federal Register for publication until a current Administration department or agency head reviews them. PHMSA’s final rule, HM-215N on International Harmonization that was scheduled to be published on Jan. 26, 2017, was withdrawn because of the regulatory freeze.
Furthermore, PHMSA counsel has interpreted the regulatory freeze very broadly; consequently, until being reviewed as required by the memorandum, the agency will NOT be doing any of the following:
- Responding to email requests;
- Providing any regulatory guidance or interpretations; or
- Issuing/renewing any special permits or approvals.
According to the Hazardous Materials Regulations, if you applied for a special permit renewal 60 days before its expiration, the special permit will NOT expire, even if PHMSA is currently not taking any special permit-related actions (49 CFR §107.109(b)). ACA cautions that this could still pose a problem in practice as enforcement personnel might not know all the intricacies of this situation.
HM-215N amends the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to maintain consistency with international regulations and standards by incorporating various amendments, including changes to proper shipping names, hazard classes, packing groups, special provisions, packaging authorizations, air transport quantity limitations, and vessel stowage requirements. According to PHMSA, these revisions are necessary to harmonize the HMR with recent changes made to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air, and the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods—Model Regulations. Additionally, HM-215N includes several amendments to the HMR that result from coordination with Canada under the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council.