With another government shutdown possibly looming again in the United States in mid-February, many are wondering how this affects the hazardous materials world, specifically those looking to ship domestically or shipments that are entering the U.S. Whether or not you agree or disagree with the shutdown, I think it is safe to say we can all agree on the importance of the continuing enforcement of the hazardous materials regulations. So the million dollar question here is, will the government shutdown have an effect on PHMSA? The short answer here, for the time being, is yes, but not in all cases. While activities like program developments, research, and HMR permits have generally been suspended, enforcement of the regulations and investigations have continued. Below is a list of continuing operations and suspended activities while this government shutdown continues to take place.
Summary of Continuing Operations
• Investigations of pipeline accidents to determine the causes and circumstances of failure, the need for corrective action, and any non-compliance that might have contributed to the accident.
• Inspections of pipeline operators and systems to detect and remediate safety concerns and determine compliance with the pipeline safety regulations.
• Enforcement of the pipeline safety regulations through corrective action orders, notices of probable violations, letters of warning and other authorized enforcement activities.
• Investigations of hazardous materials accidents to determine the causes and circumstances of failure, the need for corrective action, and any non-compliance that might have contributed to the accident.
• Inspections of hazardous materials shippers, carriers, testing facilities and cylinder reconditioning facilities to detect and remediate safety concerns and determine compliance with the hazardous materials safety regulations.
Enforcement of the hazardous materials safety regulations through the issuance of enforcement actions or development of evidence for civil and criminal penalty actions and other authorized enforcement activities.
• Hazardous Materials approvals and permits for emergencies affecting the safety of life and property only.
• Administrative support for the agency’s shutdown plan and procedures, coordination with other DOT elements and OMB, ensuring the physical security of nonexpendable property, and supporting ongoing Field operations necessary for the protection of life and property.
Summary of Suspended Activities
• Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation
• Public Affairs
• Civil Rights
• Pipeline Program Development
• Pipeline Standards and Rulemaking
• Pipeline Engineering and Research
• Pipeline State Programs (Grants)
• Pipeline Enforcement Policy, Procedures and Guidance
• Pipeline Training and Qualifications
• Emergency Response Planning and Drills
• Hazardous Materials Program Development
• Hazardous Materials Standards and Rulemaking
• Hazardous Materials Engineering and Research
• Hazardous Materials Approvals and Permits (except for emergency)
• Hazardous Materials Outreach, Training and Grants
• Hazardous Materials Special Investigations
• Hazardous Materials Training and Qualifications
• Legal Services and Representation
• Regulatory Analysis and Planning
• Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Processing
• Budget and Financial Planning and Operations (except those related to protection of life and property)
• Acquisition Services
For More information on the government shutdown, please visit the link below.