Industry Coalition Urges OMB to Approve Rule Enhancing Safe Air Transport of Lithium Batteries

PRBA–The Rechargeable Battery Association, with other trade groups, manufacturers and transportation companies, has urged the Office of Management and Budget to “act promptly” and finish its review of US Department of Transportation regulations that would advance safety goals by harmonizing US requirements for the air transport of lithium batteries with tougher international rules.

In a January 10 letter to the director of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), 24 coalition members noted that DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) safety regulation was initiated four years ago, in January 2010. PHMSA’s proposal proved controversial and was followed by new and improved regulatory efforts in April 2012 and January 2013. “It is now time for this proceeding to be completed,” the letter stated.

PHMSA’s final rule is expected to harmonize US hazardous materials regulations addressing the air transport of lithium batteries with the 2013-2014 rules established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the letter said. “We strongly believe that this would enhance safety by avoiding the burdens of complying with multiple and inconsistent safety requirements,” the letter added.

As a result, the PHMSA regulation is “both sound policy” and meets the requirements of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, including PHMSA’s continued prohibition on the transport of lithium metal batteries on passenger aircraft, the letter emphasized.

“We see no reason why OIRA should delay its promulgation and publication in the Federal Register,” the letter added, if PHMSA’s final rule harmonizes US regulations with international air transport regulation and the agency, as expected, adopts several changes advocated by the industry coalition.