Summary: H.R.968 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.968. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (03/03/1999)

Hazardous Material Transportation Safety Reauthorization Act of 1999 - Amends Federal transportation law to revise transportation of hazardous material provisions to declare new purposes, including to: (1) ensure the safe and efficient transportation of hazardous material in commerce; (2) provide the Secretary of Transportation with preemption authority to achieve uniform regulation of hazardous material transportation, ensure efficient movement of hazardous material in commerce; and promote the national health, welfare, and safety; and (3) provide adequate training for public sector emergency response teams and hazmat employees to ensure safe responses to hazardous material transportation accidents.

(Sec. 3) Revises the term "commerce" to include transportation on a U.S.-registered aircraft within Federal regulation of the transportation of hazardous material.

(Sec. 5) Changes from discretionary to mandatory the Secretary of Transportation's authority to impose a fee on persons who are required to file a registration statement for the transport of hazardous material in order to pay for the costs of processing such statements. Revises the annual fee to be paid by each person required to file a registration statement to at least $500 (currently, at least $250 but no more than $5,000). Requires the Secretary of Transportation, at the beginning of each fiscal year, to publish a fee schedule. Declares that registration requirements shall not apply to Indian tribes.

(Sec. 6) Subjects motor carrier owners and operators who receive unsatisfactory safety and safety fitness ratings to specified penalties.

(Sec. 8) Repeals a provision requiring the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to distribute a curriculum of courses to train public sector emergency and preparedness teams to regional response teams and certain committees and commission established under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986. Authorizes the Secretary of Transportation, with the National Response Team for Oil and Hazardous Substances (formerly the national response team), to publish a list of programs that use a course developed under this section for training public-sector employees to respond to accidents or incidents involving hazardous material.

(Sec. 9) Directs the Secretary of Transportation (currently, the Director of FEMA) to monitor public sector emergency response planning and training for an accident involving hazardous material.

Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to establish an Emergency Preparedness Fund. Makes amounts in such Fund, without further appropriation, available, among other things, to publish and distribute the North American Emergency Response Guidebook. Authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to allow a State or Indian tribe receiving a planning and training grant to use up to 25 percent of the grant amount to assist small businesses in complying with regulations for the safe transportation of hazardous material.

(Sec. 10) Authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to issue a special permit (currently, an exemption) from Federal safety standards with respect to the transportation of hazardous material to a person transporting hazardous material in a way that achieves a safety level at least equal to the safety level required under such Federal safety standards, or consistent with the public interest if a required safety level does not exist. Increases from two years to four years the period of the special permit authorizing variances from Federal standards governing the safe transportation of hazardous material.

(Sec. 11) Requires a working group of State and local government officials to establish uniform forms and procedures for a State to, among other things, issue special permits to persons that transport hazardous material by motor vehicle.

(Sec. 12) Authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to enter into grants, cooperative agreements, and other transactions with a person, U.S. agency, State or local government, Indian tribe, foreign government, educational institution, or other entity to further research, development, demonstration, risk assessment, emergency response planning and training activities with respect to the transportation of hazardous materials.

(Sec. 13) Sets forth certain enforcement provisions with respect to the safe transportation of hazardous material.

(Sec. 14) Revises penalties for violations of a regulation, order, special permit, or approval in connection with the transportation of a hazardous material to: (1) increase the maximum civil penalty to not more than $27,500 for each violation; and (2) provide for a fine, or imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both, for violations which lead to the release of a hazardous material (aggravated violations).

(Sec. 16) Authorizes a person with a substantial interest in a final enforcement order issued in connection with the transportation of a hazardous material to petition for review in the appropriate court.

(Sec. 17) Directs the Secretary of Transportation to conduct a study to: (1) determine the safety benefits and administrative efficiency of implementing a Federal permit program for high-risk hazardous material carriers; and (2) identify and evaluate alternative regulatory methods and procedures that may improve the safety of such carriers.

(Sec. 18) Authorizes appropriations. Earmarks certain funds for: (1) supplemental training grants to conduct hazardous material training programs for individuals to respond to hazardous material accidents; (2) training the public sector to respond to accidents involving the transportation of hazardous material; (3) hazardous material emergency response planning and training grants to States and Indian tribes; (4) monitoring and providing technical assistance to public sector emergency response planning and training for an accident involving hazardous material; (5) publishing and distributing the North American Emergency Response Guidebook; (6) certain administrative costs; and (7) grants for training instructors to train hazmat employees.

(Sec. 19) Directs the Secretary of Transportation to conduct, and report to Congress on, a two-year pilot program to randomly inspect intermodal containers in coastal port areas in order to determine the extent to which undeclared hazardous material is being offered for transportation in commerce.