By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory & legal issues, ARTBA

Federal regulatory agencies this week took several actions impacting ARTBA members:

  • The Office of Management and Budget has issued best practices for all federal agencies to implement President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on “Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery.” The Aug. 31 memo focuses on methods to ensure that members of the regulated community receive fair and prompt proceedings. It also outlines proposals on presenting evidence against accused parties and ensuring that penalties for violations are not excessive. For ARTBA members and others in the regulated community, the memo is a significant step to ensuring fairness and transparency in federal agency enforcement actions.

 

  • ARTBA Vice President of Legal & Regulatory Issues Nick Goldstein supported a proposal to retain the current National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone during a Sept. 1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) virtual hearing. The agency noted that the current standards are sufficient, stating national average ozone concentrations have fallen by 25 percent since 1990. Goldstein stressed that counties that fail to meet the NAAQS can lose federal highway funding, endangering transportation improvements which are essential to reducing congestion and improving air quality.

 

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Sept. 1 announced it would not designate “critical habitat for the rusty patched bumble bee ” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed designation would have limited development in 13 states, with the potential for adding up to 15 more states. In Illinois, confusion over the bee’s habitat resulted in litigation temporarily stopping the $115 million Longmeadow Parkway Bridge Corridor project. The FWS decision underscores one of ARTBA’s regulatory priorities: reform of the ESA’s “critical habitat” provisions.

 

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Sept. 3 proposed a new pilot program for drivers operating under federal hours of service regulations. The program would allow drivers to pause their 14-hour on-duty period (also called a driving window) with one off-duty period of no less than 30 minutes and no more than 3 hours. The agency hopes the increased flexibility will allow drivers to take a break, if necessary, to avoid either fatigue or traffic congestion without fear of violating existing hours of service rules.  ARTBA is studying the program, which has a 60-day comment period.  If you or your company have any thoughts on the proposal, please email me.

(Photo: Rusty patched bumble bee, Kim Mitchell, USFWS)