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1 December 20234 minute read

Industrials Regulatory News and Trends - December 1, 2023

Welcome to Industrials Regulatory News and Trends. In this regular bulletin, DLA Piper lawyers provide concise updates on key developments in the industrials sector to help you navigate the ever-changing business, legal and regulatory landscape.

Compromise may be in sight to pass an aviation reform bill. On November 28, Senator John Thune (R-SD) said that a deal is in the works on Capitol Hill to resolve a months-long standoff over pilot training requirements that has stalled a major aviation reform bill. In July, the US House of Representatives voted to pass legislation to raise the mandatory commercial pilot retirement age to 67 from 65 and make other aviation reforms. Thune said talks had produced an “acceptable deal” on the pilot training issue but that the deal was not final. He said the agreement "deals with the pilot shortage, pilot supply issue, and incorporates some of the best and greatest technology" for pilot training. The bill as a whole would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration’s aviation safety and infrastructure programs for the next five years. 

Key US Senate panel looks at reduction of emissions in industrial sector. On November 15, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hosted a major hearing on strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the industrial sector. The hearing, “Opportunities in Industrial Decarbonization: Delivery Benefits for the Economy and the Climate,” addressed some of the technologies and actions necessary to achieve progress while supporting the nation’s competitiveness and innovation. Committee Chairman Thomas Carper (D-DE) said during the meeting, “There are real challenges when it comes to decarbonizing the industrial sector. For example, because of the diverse industrial processes we use to make a variety of goods and materials, there isn’t a simple one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we must deploy a variety of different technologies and process changes.” Ranking Member Shelly Moore Capito(R-WV) said that permitting challenges and new regulations could block or delay key projects. She cited “regulations such as the Clean Power Plan 2.0 that would undermine reliability and drive up the cost of power for manufacturing with its unachievable short-term targets.”  

Industry groups file comments supporting STB’s rail carrier switching proposal. On November 13, three major industry groups that rely on the nation’s freight rail system filed joint comments with the Surface Transportation Board calling for enhanced standards to address rail service failures. The American Chemistry Council, the Fertilizer Institute, and the National Industrial Transportation League commended the Board for its proposal to allow rail customers that receive inadequate service to gain access to a competing railroad. In an announcement in September, the STB proposed requiring reciprocal switching to improve rail service in some circumstances. Reciprocal switching allows shippers served by a single railroad to choose to have their freight transferred to another major railroad. In their comments, the three associations supported the STB’s overall framework but proposed additional changes aimed at enhancing rail service.  

NAM urges Congress to pass bill eliminating or reducing tariffs. On November 15, the National Association of Manufacturers urged key members of the US Senate and House of Representatives to pass a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill. The MTB temporarily eliminates or reduces tariffs on products not readily available in the US; an analysis by NAM concluded that since the last MTB’s expiration, manufacturers and other businesses have paid more than $1.4 billion in anticompetitive tariffs to obtain items they are unable to source in the US.  Typically, Congress renews the MTB every few years on a bipartisan basis. The most recent MTB expired in 2020. This failure to renew the bill, NAM says, creates an array of harms: “In addition to incentivizing overseas manufacturing and costing jobs, the additional expenses are harming local economies and American taxpayers by increasing the prices on manufactured goods.”