Measure restricts HazMat traffic through D.C.

Measure restricts HazMat traffic through D.C.

Emergency legislation restricts HazMat traffic through Washington D.C.

Emergency legislation passed by the District of Columbia City Council has implemented a ban of HazMat transportation across a 2.2-mile radius from the Capitol yesterday.

Under the emergency legislation, dubbed Terrorism Prevention and Hazardous Material Transportation Emergency Act, the ban may be in effect for 90 days without the approval of Congress.

The ban raises questions as to the extent of the legislative authority that local agencies have on transportation issues. The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a statement pointing out that the prohibition as adopted by the D.C. Council could violate provisions in the U.S. Constitution and federal laws on interstate commerce, HazMat transportation, and the railroad industry.

“Should this legislation be signed into law, [DOT] will review the bill to determine whether it is in fact preempted by federal law,” DOT said.

The Wall Street Journal reported that cities in California and the Midwest are looking to enact similar measures, making the Council’s action a possible legal precedent. A “more-permanent” law for D.C., which would have to be reviewed by Congress, is already in the works.

“The emergency legislation was enacted under a perception by Council members that there is a risk that is not adequately addressed by the Dept. of Homeland Security,” Richard Moskowitz, of the American Trucking Assns.’ (ATA) regulatory affairs council, told Fleet Owner.

The legislation restricts transportation of Class 1 explosives, Class 2 flammable gasses, Class 2 poisonous gasses, and Class 6 poisonous materials, ATA said. Any transporter that is required to move such material through the restricted zone must obtain a permit from the D.C. Department of Transportation, ATA added.

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