ARLINGTON, VA – More than 90 members of the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) met with Congressional representatives and regulatory officials in Washington on Wednesday. Chemical distributors — who process, formulate, blend, re-package, warehouse, transport and market chemical products — advocated for legislation addressing the nation’s truck driver shortage, for a fully-operational U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) to usher in needed freight rail reform, and for reauthorization of a critical antiterrorism program that keeps the country secure.
“In passing the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act (DRIVE-Safe Act), Congress would be a step closer to solving the growing truck driver shortage by expanding the age for interstate drivers to 18 years old,” said NACD President Eric R. Byer. “Recent estimates indicate motor carriers are lacking 50,000 truck drivers—a number only expected to increase. In 2017, chemical distributor fleets and their third-party logistics partners traveled over 415 million miles delivering products. Across the board, industries and consumers are feeling the crunch of rising truck freight costs. It’s crucial that Congress takes action.”
During their time on Capitol Hill, NACD members connected with policy makers and influencers on issues impacting chemical distributors across the country. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), original co-sponsor of the DRIVE-Safe Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, provided insights on the legislative playing field. The Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter also shared her analysis on upcoming trends shaping policy issues.
In addition to advocating for the DRIVE-Safe Act and its two-step apprenticeship program that would give younger drivers a chance to enter the industry safely while keeping freight moving, NACD members also revisited the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), the program administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to identify and regulate high-risk chemical facilities to protect against security threats. Though CFATS was successfully renewed through April 18, 2020, the program still needs a multi-year reauthorization to allow the industry to make long-term facility investments to safeguard the nation’s chemical security.
Finally, attendees advocated for a full, five-member STB. As one of the only agencies with federal oversight of freight rail, NACD members encouraged Congress to nominate and confirm STB members who will make decisions based on economic realities and founded on free market solutions.
NACD members also had the opportunity to sit down with regulators to explain how their small businesses are impacted by federal regulations, from environmental policy to trade concerns to the truck driver shortage. They met with Alexandra Dunn of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Brenda Smith of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Ray Martinez of the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.