ATA applauds House panel’s action to modify hazmat checks

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The American Trucking Associations announced its support of actions by a House subcommittee to narrow the application of fingerprint-based screening requirements to drivers who transport security-sensitive materials. The SAFE Truckers Act (H.R. 5604) — as approved by the Economic, Security, Infrastructure Protection and Cybersecurity Subcommittee — would differentiate between hazardous materials that pose a significant risk to homeland security and hazardous materials that do not, such as paint, nail polish, perfume and soft drink syrup.

Today, drivers transporting all types of hazardous materials in threshold quantities must undergo an onerous and expensive fingerprint-based background check. Under the SAFE Truckers Act, only drivers transporting security-sensitive hazardous materials would be subject to fingerprint-based screening. Drivers transporting nonsecurity-sensitive hazardous materials still would be subject to a name-based check against terrorist and intelligence-related databases.

The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Subcommittee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), and eight other members of the Homeland Security Committee. “Not all hazardous materials pose a risk to homeland security,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “This measure appropriately balances national security needs without unnecessarily burdening drivers and the movement of commerce.”

During the markup Thursday, June 22, the subcommittee adopted an amendment based on separate legislation introduced by Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) to limit the cost of the security-sensitive hazmat permit if the driver already has been screened under the existing security assessment program. The subcommittee also adopted an amendment requiring the Transportation Security Administration to report to Congress the number of TSA employees working on the security-sensitive hazmat permitting program, program operating costs and information on how the program is administered. The Subcommittee rejected an amendment opposed by ATA that would have required pretrip routing notifications, tracking requirements, communication systems and extra training requirements.