The following briefs were compiled by Steve Toloken, Plastics News' Washington-based staff reporter
Status quo expected from transport board
WASHINGTON — The Surface Transportation Board may soon have its full complement of three members, but one lobbyist for shippers does not expect the new appointments to alter shipper frustration with the agency.
William Clybourn and William Burkes seem likely to be confirmed, shipper officials predicted.
But Diane Duff, executive director of the Washington-based Alliance for Rail Competition, said those new faces are unlikely to change STB.
Chairwoman Linda Morgan made it clear in a December letter to Congress that she thinks her agency lacks the authority to make dramatic changes in rail regulation, a point rail shippers disagree with.
``I don't think at this point in the game, [the new commissioners] can really make much difference,'' Duff said.
The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., which is part of the ARC, held a transportation committee meeting Feb. 3-5 to discuss rail strategy.
SPI plans a multipronged approach, said Maureen Healey, director of transportation. That will include working with STB, lobbying Congress to make changes and participating in new railroad customer forums, she said. The group also discussed court challenges to STB rules, but Healey downplayed that option.
ARC plans a Washington lobbying day for shippers March 17 and 18.
Senator's bill would alter OSHA methods
WASHINGTON — One of the Senate's key figures on changes in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has introduced a bill that will allow certified third-party inspections of facilities.
Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., said in a press release that his bill drops provisions that labor groups; employers; Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; and OSHA officials objected to last year.
``Worker safety is a contentious subject that has divided the Senate for years now,'' he said.
Enzi, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Employment Safety and Training, said the voluntary consultation program in the bill would exempt employers from civil penalties for one year if they use OSHA-certified inspectors.
Enzi said he removed language on employee grievances and employer work groups that labor leaders and other objected to.