Thursday, May 23, 2013
Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and David Vitter (R-LA) announced a bi-partisan agreement to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) yesterday. As explained in the attached Press Release, under the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013, the EPA will be given new tools to test and evaluate existing chemicals for safety, and new chemicals before they enter the market. Highlights of the proposed changes to the TCSA are: an evaluation of all chemicals in active commerce as either "high" or "low" potential risk to human health and the environment; EPA is given authority to take action if a chemical is found to be unsafe, ranging from labeling requirements to banning or phasing out of use of a chemical; EPA will be required to assess risks posed to children and pregnant women when evaluating chemicals; and, State and local governments will have input on safety assessment and prioritization of chemical evaluation. The Bill, S. 696 attached here, has broad bi-partisan support in addition to the main sponsors, including Senators Gillibrand (D-NY), Crapo (R-ID), Durbin (D-IL), Alexander (R-TN), Schumer (D-NY), Inhofe (R-OK), Rubio (D-FL), and Manchin (D-WV), among the 14 additional sponsors.
Monday, May 20, 2013
The Surface Transportation Board (STB) in a decision published May 13, 2013 in Docket EP-699, issued revised rules for Arbitration and Mediation of disputes before it. The Board's decision, which includes the final rules, is attached here. Arbitration, is a form of binding dispute resolution, where parties submit their dispute to a mutually agreed arbitrator (or panel), for resolution. Mediation, by constrast, is a joint process where parties attempt to resolve their dispute, or settle the matter, with the assistance of a mediator. Under the STB's revised arbitration rules, parties must "opt-in" to arbitration, either before a dispute arises or after an action before the Board has been filed. Arbitration awards are limited to $200,000 (unless the parties agree to expand the maximum), and are limited to disputes involving demurrage, accessorial charges, misrouting/mishandling rail cars, and disputes over a carrier's published rail rules/practices (i.e. tariffs). The new mediation rules published by the Board give the Board authority to order mediation in certain disputes - i.e. "those in which the Board is not required to grant or deny a license or other regulatory approval or exemption, and those that do not invovle labor protection." Sec. 1109.1.