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A Primer on Hazardous Materials Transportation Law of the 1990s: The Awakening

September 1992

Citation: ELR 10583

Author: Andrew J. Harrison and Stan Millan

Editors' Summary: Regulation of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) transportation has developed in a piecemeal fashion over the past century. In response, Congress passed the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act in 1975 and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act in 1990, delegating authority to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve effectiveness, consistency, and uniformity in HAZMAT regulation. The U.S. EPA also participates in HAZMAT regulation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This Article traces the history of HAZMAT regulations, identifies the regulators and the regulated communities, and delineates the DOT's enforcement responsibilities in cooperation with other federal agencies. The Article also assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the HAZMAT regulations by focusing on the U.S. role in world chemical markets and on states' rights issues under the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Finally, the authors conclude that the HAZMAT requirements tell industry what is expected and allow for innovative means of compliance.

Dr. Millan (S.J.D., Tulane, 1990) is a lecturer in environmental law at Loyola Law School, New Orleans, Louisiana, and he advises industry and agencies on environmental law, including HAZMAT. Mr. Harrison (LL.M., George Washington University, 1991) is an attorney in the Hazardous Waste Law Branch of EPA, Region IV, Atlanta, Georgia. This Article was written by the authors in their private capacities and it represents the views of the authors only. No official support or endorsement by EPA or other entities is intended or should be inferred.

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