DG Digest: Semi-annual regulatory agendas & the new PHMSA Lithium Battery Committee

The year closes out with a busy week; among the actions, the FRA published a notice revising the way railroads will report progress on PTC implementation. A BNSF freight train rumbles into the crossovers at CP Thomas in Auburn, Washington during a late December sunset. Image copyright 12/2019 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

The final DG Digest of 2019 finds regulatory activity at a surprisingly high and extensive level for the holiday period; it’s usually a slow time, but not this year!

2019 is over; what will 2020 bring to the regulatory scene? Perhaps the biggest unresolved question in the United States remains the final status of the HM-215O international harmonization; this rule is now one full year behind its originally anticipated release date. At present, there is no news regarding when it may finally see publication.

The new situation vis-à-vis the UN 38.3 test report availability requirement for lithium batteries for international shipments will also drive interesting developments in 2020 as the industry learns what the true impact of this new requirement will be.

All in all, it’s been a good year in regulations; the Labelmaster family hopes that you had a good year too, and looks forward with you to a productive, safe, and successful 2020!

Here’s the latest news to wrap up 2019 with:

Regulatory Agendas for 2020

A variety of agencies, commissions, and departments published their semi-annual regulatory agendas for the first half of 2020; we break the actions down below:


The commission published its proposed regulatory agenda for the first half of the coming year; see the new plans right here.

Homeland Security

The parent department of the TSA also published its proposed regulatory agenda; see it here.


Likewise, OSHA’s parent department published its proposed new agenda for the first half of 2020; here’s the plan.


The “Surf Board” that helps regulate the nation’s railroad industry also published its proposed new agenda for the first half of 2020. Take a look right here.


This vital agency also published its new agenda; here’s all the news from them.


The agency has announced the first meeting of its new Lithium Battery Advisory Committee. This rather momentous (for the DG world in the USA, anyway) occasion will be January 22-23 in Washington, DC. People wishing to attend as observers must make reservations no later than January 8th. Spaces are limited, so don’t delay if you’re interested. Here’s your portal for more information and ways to attend.


The nation’s fifth armed force published its new drug and alcohol testing rate requirement for affected maritime employees. The rate remains at 50%, the same as for 2019. See the rule here.


The agency also published its new required test rates for drugs and alcohol; the FMCSA rates are 50% for drugs and 10% for alcohol. This doubles the test rate for drugs, account a positive report rate exceeding the 1% threshold for the past reporting year. See the new standard here.


The agency published a revision to its administrative and rulemaking process and procedures guide. It sets forth the means by which the agency reaches its rulemaking decisions and conducts other business. See the new revisions here.


The agency published a notice setting forth the next set of twenty (20) chemicals to be evaluated under the TSCA’s high-risk evaluation process for subject chemicals; the new list includes both formaldehyde and phosphoric acid, both relatively common chemicals used in industry and labs. See the new list and related action proposal here.


The agency published a revision to the standard forms and methods that subject railroads are to use to report progress on their PTC implementation progress. The implementation deadline is the end of the coming year, 2020. See the revisions here.

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