The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has formally announced that federal hazmat transportation laws preempt District of Columbia rules that ban hazmat transport within 2.2 miles of the U.S. Capitol building without a license. The FMCSA today issued the notice of administrative determination of preemption in the Federal Register, which overturns the current ban in place.

The controversy began when the Council of the District of Columbia enacted a temporary ban in February 2005, dubbed the Terrorism Prevention in Hazardous Materials Transportation Emergency Act of 2005. Although that particular act has expired, the Council has since enacted new rules with similar language.

The DC Act bans hazmat transport and vehicles capable of transporting such freight within 2.2 miles of the U.S. Capitol building without a license issued by the District of Columbia Dept. of Transportation. DCDOT was authorized to implement safety measures such as time-of-day restrictions as well as levy a fee for permits.

Yellow Roadway Corp., recently renamed YRC Worldwide, said if the DC Act went unchallenged, other cities and local governments could enact their own rules. Additional miles associated with rerouting increases exposure while adhering to a patchwork of local hazmat would be confusing, costly and decrease safety, the LTL said.

In 1990, Congress enacted federal hazmat transportation rules, underscoring that uniform regs were vital to avoid “unreasonable hazards in other jurisdictions and confounding shippers and carriers which attempt to comply with multiple and conflicting…requirements.”

FMCSA’s notice in the Federal Register was in response to an American Trucking Assns.’ request filed on March 14, 2005. The notice wasn’t the first time that DOT weighed in against DC’s restrictive hazmat measures. In March 2005, the Surface Transportation Board issued a comment that federal regs preempt the ban.