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April 25, 2013
Reduction in hazmat registration fee

Thanks to an unexpended balance in the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) Fund, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has halved registration fees for 2013–2014. 

The fees must be paid by persons who transport or offer for transportation in commerce certain categories and quantities of hazardous materials (hazmat).  The reduced fees are $125 (plus a $25 processing charge) for a small business or not-for-profit organization and $1,300 (plus a $25 processing charge) for all other businesses.  The fee must be submitted beforeJuly 1, 2013, or before engaging in any of the activities requiring registration, whichever is later.

Federal law places a cap of $28.3 million on the HMEP Fund, which is used to supply a variety of grants that mainly provide training to emergency responders.  The largest portion of the Fund at $21,800,000 is provided to states and Indian tribes; at least 75 percent of this amount must be used for planning and training at the local level. 

OIG audit

According to PHMSA, during 2009 and 2010, internal evaluations as well as an outside audit found multiple problems with the way PHMSA was distributing the HMEP funds.  In a report, the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) noted that PHMSA was lax in overseeing the distribution process, resulting in misused grant funds due to improper payments and erroneously advanced funds.  PHMSA says it responded to these developments by improving the information conveyed to grant applicants about how the funds are to be used and by encouraging applicants to do a better job of evaluating their own programs and expenditures. 

As a result of the heightened scrutiny of applications and resulting “grant de-obligations,” as of December 31, 2012, the HMEP Fund had an unexpended balance of $13.1 million.  PHMSA says that cutting the fee in half for 1 year should eliminate the excess funds. 

Refunds

PHMSA permits a person to register for 1 to 3 years in one registration statement.  Thus, the temporary decrease in registration fees means that lower fees will be applied to any registrations paid in advance at the higher level.  PHMSA says it will notify each registrant that will be eligible to request a refund for the 2013–2014 registration year and issue refunds. 

Click here for registration information.

PHMSA’s final rule announcing reduced registration fees was published in the April 19, 2013, FR

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