DG Digest: WA State v. Federal Government — jurisdiction at stake in dispute over crude oil volatility limits

PHMSA will decide a regulatory dispute between the states of Washington on one side and North Dakota and Montana on the other.   The case involves the allowed vapor pressure of oil shipments by rail through Washington, and whether individual states have the authority to regulate such parameters when it involves matters of interstate commerce.  An oil train passes through the Yakima River Canyon on the BNSF Railway south of Ellensburg, WA on July 20th.  Photo © 7/2019 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

As is often the case in the mid-summer, the regulatory news is a little sparse this week; however, PHMSA offers an interesting request for comments regarding federal primacy in interstate transport, and OSHA had reasons to publish also.  See all the latest below:


Interested parties are invited to comment on an application by the State of North Dakota and the State of Montana for an administrative determination as to whether Federal hazardous material transportation law preempts the State of Washington’s rules relating to the volatility of crude oil received in the state.  Washington is attempting to set a vapor pressure limit for loading and unloading in that state substantially lower than what federal hazardous materials law presently specifies. Comments received on or before August 23, 2019 and rebuttal comments received on or before September 23, 2019 will be considered before an administrative determination is issued by PHMSA’s Chief Counsel. Rebuttal comments may discuss only those issues raised by comments received during the initial comment period and may not discuss new issues. More here


The nation’s premier workplace safety agency checks in with a renewal request for an ICR related to data about fall protections and walking and working surfaces.  Slips, trips, and falls in the workplace account for a significant portion of reportable injuries each year, and OSHA is always on the lookout for ways to improve the numbers.  This ICR is intended to help them do just that. See it here

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