Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

* Nothing to See Here: On the day before Thanksgiving DOT and DOE published an RFI with the hardly-noticeable title “Buy America Request for Information.” Turns out it’s an initial step to reshape the US transportation system! Now that’s pretty bland. “Reshape,” that’s the agencies’ word and the transformation will result from the construction of the President’s goal of building a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030. For DOT, Federal Highway has been given this assignment and the RFI, at least partially, might be called a scouting notice. It asks: who’s building EV charging systems, particularly in the US? “Buy America” requirements are critical. The RFI seeks comments on what it would take to establish manufacturing in the US. Plus “Buy America” rules must expand beyond iron, steel and coatings. That’s because recent infrastructure legislation requires the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, within 180 days, to issue “Buy American” standards that define the term “all manufacturing processes.” (That’ll be easy. OMB’s new director should be hitting the books now.) This complex tangle could also include state contracting regulations, since state DOT programs depend on federal dollars. Climate is one focus, but so are “good-paying, union jobs.” Consultants and attorneys will also probably do pretty well in this space. Comments are due January 10, 2022.

* WRONG PRONOUN DUH!! DOC’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published an RFI last week seeking comments on public and private sector marketplace trends, supply chain risks, legislative, policy, and the future investment needs of eight emerging technology areas, including: Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things in Manufacturing, Quantum Computing, Blockchain Technology, New and Advanced Materials, Unmanned Delivery Services, Internet of Things, and Three-dimensional Printing (yes, somebody used the word “unmanned!” And, even worse, thoughtless others up the food chain ignored it! What about “autonomous” or the much preferred “unanthroped?” There’s going to be hell to pay!) At any rate, NIST seeks information within two broad areas: Technology Development and Technology Applications & Utilization. Development issues include a better understanding of agency jurisdiction, possible new standards and whether new legislation or regulations might help. For Applications & Utilization NIST seeks information on regional innovation centers, marketplace trends and foreign capabilities and capacities. This information will be used in a report to Congress (NIST does not tell when that report is due). Deadline for comments is January 31, 2022.

* This team’s on it: The Federal Maritime Commission announced the second meeting of the new National Shipper Advisory Committee (NSAC) established in 2020 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Its focus: advise FMC on the competitiveness, reliability, integrity, and fairness of the “international ocean freight delivery system.” The Committee’s initial meeting was October 27. This second meeting now turns to getting some work done. Core topics include data sharing, visibility and fees and surcharges, e.g., Port of LA’s sudden and unannounced fees on containers last month. The 23-member Committee will establish subcommittees “that will be tasked with progressing through issues organized under key headers.” The 2022 meeting schedule will be set. This is a virtual meeting, but registration is required.

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