Victory! PHMSA Grants NTTC’s Preemption Determination for Hazardous Materials Carriers

ARLINGTON, VA - Today, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) granted the National Tank Truck Carriers’ (NTTC) petition and preempted California’s meal and rest break laws as applied to hazardous material loads. 

PHMSA found that California’s meal and rest break laws regulate hazmat transportation and are inconsistent with Hazardous Materials Regulations. As a result, the California provisions are expressly preempted by federal law. Carriers and drivers no longer have to choose between following the HMRs to avoid the threat of hazmat releases in densely populated environments or complying with California’s meal and rest break requirements.

“Our carriers are very pleased that the professionals at PHMSA share our commitment to safety, particularly when it comes to transporting hazardous materials,” said NTTC Chairman John Whittington, Vice President of Government Relations at Grammer Industries. “We thank the organizations that stood with us, like NTTC member Cox Petroleum, the American Trucking Associations, the California Trucking Association, the American Pyrotechnics Association, the National Association of Chemical Distributors, the Western States Trucking Association, and the California Independent Oil Marketers Association.”

“PHMSA’s determination recognizes that Congress purposely established uniform, nationwide standards to ensure the safe and secure transportation of hazardous materials and that state laws, like California’s, no matter how well intentioned, cannot interfere with the federal scheme,” said Prasad Sharma, a partner at Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson, & Feary, who authored the petition for NTTC. 

“This determination marks a major victory for the entire tank truck industry,” said NTTC President Dan Furth. “For years, we have argued that unnecessary delays in hazmat transportation compounds the risk to our carriers, our shippers, our professional drivers, and the public at large. All stakeholders win when safety is the foremost priority and I want to credit PHMSA for asserting its authority appropriately.”

California has 20 days to file a reconsideration of the ruling, and 60 days to seek judicial review.  NTTC encourages the state to recognize that PHMSA’s decision is consistent with federal law and accept it is the right way to promote safety. If California does appeal, the preemption decision will remain in force while the appeal is adjudicated.


About NTTC:

The National Tank Truck Carriers has represented the tank truck industry before Congress and various federal agencies since its founding in 1945.  NTTC’s mission is to champion safety and success in the tank truck community through advocacy and education. NTTC’s membership is comprised of over 600 companies that specialize in bulk transportation services by cargo tank throughout North America. The tank truck industry generates roughly 6% of all truck freight revenue, but that represents 30% of all truck freight in terms of tonnage due to the heavy nature of the liquid bulk products we handle.