15 May 2001 23:02 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--The Bush administration is reviewing a draft proposal for renewal of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA) in which state enforcement is at issue, CNI learned Tuesday.
An interagency team, led by the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), took nine months to develop the draft legislation, says a department official.
After Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta completes his review and approves the proposal, the measure will go to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for further review.
The official says no target date has been set for submitting the legislation to Capitol Hill. "We're trying to do this as soon as possible," he said. HMTA reauthorization "is a fairly high priority matter for DOT."
In January, RSPA requested stakeholders for advice on how to proceed with reauthorization of the hazardous materials transport statute. In comments filed earlier this month, a coalition of business groups, including the American Chemistry Council (ACC), provided extensive recommendations on possible changes in the law.
The coalition expressed particular concern over the issue of state enforcement authority. The group said it could support an amendment affirming the right of states to establish their own enforcement systems based on strict liability standards "as long as the penalties do not exceed reasonable limits."
States that set penalties above such limits should have to adopt federal standards requiring that violators must be shown to have "willingly" or "knowingly" broken the law, said one of the coalition's comments.
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