DC Update: Truck Regs Back in the News; Possible Expansion of Electronics Ban on Airplanes

A report on government actions that could affect the remote-production industry

The House may have been in recess this week, but Washington was still at work.

Last Friday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors announced that it is creating an infrastructure task force, chaired by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. The group will attempt to collaborate with lawmakers and administration officials on an infrastructure bill.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

On Monday, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted EPA’s request for a 90-day pause in a lawsuit over Phase 2 of the Obama administration’s emissions rule for heavy-duty trucks, which requires truckers to use lighter and more aerodynamic trailers to haul cargo. EPA asked for the delay to review the rule and determine whether there are potential revisions. In the meantime, the rule remains in effect. Watch for more information when EPA releases its final determination.

On Wednesday, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a video to promote side underride guards on trucks. IIHS maintains that side guards could reduce fatalities and serious injuries in 75%-90% of accidents when the car drives into the side of a truck. New York City will require side underride guards on all trucks by 2024, and safety advocates encourage a national mandate.

However, the ATA opposes any such requirement, maintaining that “side underride guards would add significant weight and require stiffer trailers, which can develop cracks in the frame rails during normal operation, wearing out sooner and creating a safety issue of potential trailer failure during operation.” There is currently no legislation pending, but we will be following this issue to see how it unfolds.

Concern over lithium batteries in cargo holds reemerged on Thursday when the Department of Homeland Security announced that it has not expanded the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins partly because of concerns over “how to ensure lithium batteries stored in luggage holds do not explode midair.” An Airlines for Europe official said that European airlines are “already preparing behind the scenes” for an expansion of the restriction to at least some European airports. A DHS spokesman said that, even though no decisions have been made, a ban is still under consideration.

Thursday marked the 142-day countdown until DOT appropriations run out. FAA reauthorization also expires in 142 days, and the highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,239 days.

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing next Wednesday on air-traffic–control operations. And it is possible that the Senate will vote on Jeffrey Rosen’s nomination as Deputy Secretary of Transportation. These and other actions will be covered in next week’s DC Update.

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