The Rechargeable Battery Association Endorses Transportation Department’s Announcement of Regulatory Review

The Rechargeable Battery Association fully supports the Department of Transportation’s announcement to conduct a thorough review of its existing regulations, an action PRBA requested in a Feb. 9, 2011 letter to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood.

"PRBA and its members are greatly encouraged by the Department of Transportation’s announcement of a much needed review of its regulations. We hope DOT’s regulatory initiative will improve safety and benefit consumers while also reducing unwarranted and overly burdensome regulations on industry," said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner.

DOT announced its action in a Federal Register notice stating the Department was acting to conform to the president’s recent Executive Order 13563, which requires federal agencies to re-examine their rulemakings to determine their continued validity. DOT said the review and public input will help the Department decide which regulations may be "outmoded, ineffective, insufficient or excessively burdensome."

The Department’s announcement came just a week after PRBA wrote to Secretary LaHood and asked specifically about the implications of the Executive Order on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) proposed lithium battery rule that was published on January 11, 2010. The Executive Order requires federal agencies to design cost-effective, evidence-based regulations compatible with the White House goals of economic growth, job creation and competitiveness, the letter noted.

"Unfortunately, PHMSA’s proposed lithium battery rule fails to meet any of these requirements," the letter said. "But there is still time for PHMSA to correct its deficiencies and come into compliance with the new Executive Order," PRBA added.

In light of President Obama’s Executive Order, Secretary LaHood should direct PHMSA "to fundamentally revisit its proposed lithium battery rule," PRBA’s letter stated. PRBA urged PHMSA to issue a final rule that would promote safety and minimize unnecessary costs by harmonizing U.S. hazardous materials rules with the more stringent international dangerous goods regulations.

PHMSA’s rule proposed new shipping and handling requirements for the air transportation of lithium batteries and products containing these batteries. In its letter to Secretary LaHood, PRBA listed numerous deficiencies found in the PHMSA proposal. For example, PHMSA rejected all industry requests to extend the comment period for the proposed rule and limited industry input and technical discussions. Moreover, the rule is neither simplified nor science-driven, PRBA’s letter stated.

PHMSA’s rule is also not cost-justified or cost-effective. PHMSA estimated the regulation would cost $9.4 million annually to implement, but its data greatly underestimate the costs, the letter said. A PRBA study found the rule would impose direct costs on the U.S. economy in excess of $1 billion a year, harming American consumers and disrupting some of the most efficient and time-to-market distribution systems in the world, without improving the safety of air transportation.

The members of PRBA power the consumer electronics revolution. We deliver a safe, efficient, and essential power source for portable electronic equipment such notebook computers, cell phones, power tools, PDAs, and MP3 players as well as hybrid and electric vehicles. PRBA members produce approximately 70% of the world’s lithium-ion cells and account for billions of dollars in annual worldwide sales. With more than 70 members, PRBA is widely recognized as the nation’s authoritative source for information on rechargeable batteries.