Contact: Scott Jensen, (202) 249-6511  

WASHINGTON (Apr. 2, 2014) - The American Chemistry Council (ACC)  testified today before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials in support of the reauthorization of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA). Keeping this program in place is critical to assure the continued safe transportation of chemicals and other hazardous materials throughout the country.

Testifying on behalf of ACC, Tom Schick, senior director of Regulatory and Technical Affairs at ACC, said "that the federal government must continue to play a central role in ensuring the safe transportation of hazardous materials." He continued by stressing that ACC and its  member companies strongly support the uniform approach created by HMTA, because it establishes a consistent approach to all aspects of hazardous materials transportation across the nation.

Recognizing that fact, he said that a reauthorized HMTA could perform even better. "The goal of this system is not to prevent the movement of chemicals and other hazardous materials, but rather to ensure that they are delivered safely, securely and reliably," Schick reminded Subcommittee members.

As Schick explained, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is not properly addressing the loading and unloading of hazardous materials under HMTA, a vital component to the safe transportation of all materials. He said that providing more effective regulatory oversight of the loading and unloading shipments would help facilitate consistent safety procedures, a point that Subcommittee members should address when reauthorizing HMTA.

Finally, in considering legislation to reauthorize HMTA, Congress should retain the current "special permits" function, Schick said. This measure allows companies the flexibility to submit proposals for safety-based variations from DOT's existing rules that must provide an equivalent or greater level of safety for transporting hazardous materials. It also presents DOT with the opportunity to make sure its program stays current by incorporating new and approved procedures and technologies into its own regulatory approach. However, Schick adds that imposing a fee on companies that apply for special permits, as some have suggested, would only interfere with the adoption of innovative safety enhancements.

"This country depends on HMTA and our safe and reliable system for moving hazardous materials under DOT's uniform national rules," Schick concluded. "Some improvements may be deemed appropriate, and the public and private sectors can work together to ensure that this system continuously improves and remains competitive in the global marketplace. We look forward to working closely with this Subcommittee, DOT and others to achieve this goal."

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