DG Digest: US Regulatory Agencies Update Semi-annual Agendas

Many federal agencies including the USDOT and the “Surf Board” or STB published their semi-annual regulatory agenda’s last week, spelling out their intentions for implementation of regulations governing many aspects of federal action including authority over rail activity.  A BNSF train passes Control Point Thomas in Auburn, Washington on a sunny March 11, 2021.  Photo © 3/2021 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

Welcome to April!  As we pass into the heart of the Spring season, hopefully everyone is ramping up their efforts to help employees stay safe and get vaccinated if they choose to do so.  Let’s all keeping working together to end this pandemic and get our nation back on track.  The week featured some significant regulatory news; here’s the latest:

Semi-Annual Regulatory Agendas

Twice a year, federal agencies publish proposed regulatory agendas that lay out the course that agency expects to follow in pursuing regulatory change, reform, and implementation. The agendas can be a useful guide as to what to expect from any given agency. They tend to come in batches; here are links to the current set of potentially DG and or Safety-relevant agency agendas:

CPSC: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-31/pdf/2021-04330.pdf

DOE: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-31/pdf/2021-05662.pdf

EPA: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-31/pdf/2021-04336.pdf

GSA: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-31/pdf/2021-05848.pdf

DHS: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-31/pdf/2021-04337.pdf

DOL: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-31/pdf/2021-05476.pdf

NRC: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-31/pdf/2021-04347.pdf

STB: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-31/pdf/2021-04468.pdf

DOT: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-31/pdf/2021-05416.pdf

USDOT Administrative Procedures Revision

In an issuance that cuts across multiple DOT sub-agencies including PHMSA and FMCSA, DOT is specifying a final rule that:

“removes the Department’s internal policies and procedures relating to the issuance of rulemaking and guidance documents from the Code of Federal Regulations. In addition, this final rule removes regulations concerning the initiation and conduct of enforcement actions, including administrative enforcement proceedings and judicial enforcement actions brought in Federal court. The Department is issuing this final rule in response to two recently issued Executive orders. Executive Order (E.O.) 13992, ‘‘Revocation of Certain Executive Orders Concerning Federal Regulation’’ (January 20, 2021), revokes several executive orders that directed action by the Federal Government in the context of rulemaking, guidance, and regulatory enforcement. It also directs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and heads of agencies to promptly take steps to rescind any orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies, or portions thereof, implementing or enforcing any of the revoked orders, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law. E.O. 13990, ‘‘Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis’’ (January 20, 2021), directs all executive departments and agencies to review immediately and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to address the promulgation of Federal regulations and other actions that conflict with the objectives stated in E.O. 13990.”

In essence the rule asserts Biden administration control over the rulemaking process and begins to implement administrative processes that will facilitate revision or reversal of Trump administration policy and processes at the affected agencies. See the rule here.


The agency published a notice that announces that PHMSA’s Office of Hazardous Materials Safety will host four public meetings during 2021 in advance of certain international meetings:

  • The first meeting will be held in preparation of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) Working Group 21 (WG/21) virtual meeting scheduled for May 24– 28, 2021.
  • The second meeting will be held in preparation of the 58th session of the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (UNSCOE TDG) scheduled for June 28 to July 2, 2021, in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The third meeting will be held in preparation of the ICAO DGP 28 Meeting (DGP/28) scheduled for September 27 to October 1, 2021.
  • The fourth meeting will be held in preparation of the 59th session of the UNSCOE TDG scheduled for November 29 to December 8, 2021.

For each of these meetings, PHMSA will solicit public input on current proposals. See the full notice here.

Transport Canada

The ministry’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Directorate has completed a review of Form 16-0090 for air operators submitting their dangerous goods policies, procedures and training programs for approval.  This new notice is intended to inform air operators of the change to Form 16-0090 – “Application for Review of Dangerous Goods Policies & Procedures and Training Programs.”  Relevant information about the changes made to Form 16-0090 can be found here.

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