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Threats of Rail Labor Strike Curtail HazMat Shipments

The possibility of an imminent rail labor strike has created uncertainties for rail shippers and receivers, of course for the railroads themselves, this autumn.  Shippers of hazardous materials (HazMat) have been particularly affected by preemptive measures taken by carriers to limit their exposure to risks of HazMat being delayed in transit on the rail network.  These include curtailing shipments of chlorine and other HazMat, suspending freight train service, and repositioning locomotives, as reported by the Association of American Railroads and the online service advisories of various Class I railroads.

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Trucking Industry Group Seeks Exemption to Conduct Drug Screening Utilizing Hair Testing

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has requested public comment on an application for exemption submitted by The Trucking Alliance that would allow trucking companies to use hair testing in addition to urine testing for random drug tests and pre-employment screenings. The exemption also asks that carriers be allowed to publish the results of those tests into the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a database that employers must review when hiring a driver and annually during employment.

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Transportation Bites

  • ATLP’s Fall Forum is scheduled to be an in-person event this year in Washington D.C.  The forum is to be held in November – details will be forthcoming.  After our successful Kansas City meeting, we are excited to get together again!
  • The Federal Maritime Commission establishes a website to report its progress implementing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022.
  • The Presidential Emergency Board recommends wage increases to resolve contract talks between major railroads and labor.  Read the entire report here or the Reuters summary here.
  • DOT issues a proposed rule to strengthen consumer protections for ticket refunds.
  • Chairman Oberman appoints Janie Sheng as Director of the STB’s Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs and Compliance.  Ms. Sheng has been Acting Director since August 2021. 
  • Harvest Season is Coming and the STB wants to know if the Class I carriers are ready.
  • California to ban the sale of new gasoline powered automobiles by 2035.  Washington State intends to do so as well.

Talking Transportation: A Conversation with FRA Chief Counsel – Allison Ishihara Fultz.

Allison Ishihara Fultz is no stranger to the ATLP community.  Prior to joining the Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) as its Chief Counsel, Allison has served as a passenger rail editor to Highlights, a chair of the program committee, and as a vice president and treasurer of ATLP’s board of directors.  Allison stepped down from ATLP this past fall to assume her role at FRA.  Allison and I recently spoke on the phone to discuss her career in transportation, her transition from private practice to a safety regulator, and current events at the FRA.

One issue that Allison says is an FRA priority in implementing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, or Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (“BIL”) is ensuring that the agency provides accessible guidance to all potential organizations seeking funds under the new legislation.  Allison says FRA understands that sophisticated organizations know how to navigate the federal government’s grant making process.  But FRA also wants to ensure that other entities, such as small municipalities – less familiar with the granting process – can access funds to address pressing rail infrastructure issues.

Prior to earning her law degree from the American University Washington College of Law, Allison trained to become an architect by earning her AB and Master of Architecture degrees from Princeton University and then practiced architecture for 13 years, designing and directing construction projects and feasibility studies.

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Transportation Bites – Transportation news this week is in sync with ATLP’s Annual Meeting Agenda

ATLP’s Annual Meeting is 79 days away.  The agenda is packed full of transportation topics in sync with this week’s transportation news.  In this Highlights post we review this week’s news and preview related annual meeting sessions.


The Senate sent its version of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act to the House of Representatives this past Monday.  The House had already passed its version of the act and now the chambers must reconcile the differences between the bills. 

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Transportation Bites

  • STB suspends the CP/KCS procedural schedule.
  • Chairman Oberman Appoints Danielle Gosselin as Director of Office of Environmental Analysis of the Surface Transportation Board.  Ms. Gosselin has been Acting Director since the retirement of the prior Director, Vicki Ruston. 
  • Surface Transportation Board holds public hearing on EP 711 (sub 1) to solicit public feedback on reciprocal switching.
  • The Transportation Security Administration is extending the current mandate for mask use on public transportation and in transportation hubs through April 18.
  • The White House seeks to utilize the Federal Maritime Commission to increase oversight of the global shipping industry in an effort to lower consumer prices.
  • Budget deal implements spending authorized in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and provides $102.9 billion in budgetary resources for DOT – an increase of $16.2 billion above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level.