PHMSA Proposes to Increase Registration Fees

Agency Says ‘Overdue’ Increases to Help Fund First Responders
truck carrying hazmat
Comments on the proposal must be received by Aug. 22. (Arthur Kaszuba/Getty Images)

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The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed to raise to the maximum level permitted by Congress registration fees that are paid by hazardous materials carriers, increases the agency describes as “overdue annual updates.”

The proposal would increase the fees to $3,000 for large hazmat transporters and to $375 for small carriers, jumps of $425 and $125, respectively.

The agency said the fee increases are needed to “account for increased transport of hazardous materials as well as the burdens such transport places on first responders.”

It added, “Actions such as fee adjustments are necessary to fund PHMSA’s Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness grants program at newly authorized levels in accordance with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”


PHMSA is also proposing to implement an electronic-only registration fee payment process. In addition, it proposes to revise requirements to clarify that a certificate of registration may be carried in either electronic or paper form for both motor carriers and those who transport hazardous materials by vessel.

Comments on the proposal must be received by Aug. 22, but the agency said it will consider late-filed comments to the extent possible.

The HMEP grants program supports hazardous materials emergency response planning and training activities by states, local governments and Native American Tribes — ensuring first responders are well-trained and prepared to respond to hazardous materials related incidents. The grants also fund nonprofit organizations to provide “train-the-trainer” and direct training programs for hazardous materials emergency response training and hazardous materials employee training. Additionally, HMEP grants support the development of the Emergency Response Guidebook — provided to and used by nearly every fire department in the United States.

PHMSA has discretion to require additional people to register beyond those who offer and transport certain categories and quantities of hazardous materials. The agency must currently set an annual registration fee between a statutory prescribed minimum of $250 and maximum of $3,000. The annual registration fee is currently set at $250 (plus a $25 processing fee) for registrants qualifying as small businesses or not-for-profit organizations.


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President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law on Nov. 15, 2021.

The bipartisan infrastructure law, as the bill is known, authorized the secretary of transportation to expend $46.8 million from emergency preparedness funds to carry out the grants program, for fiscal years 2022-2026. The law increased the authorized funding level by $18.5 million. This increase gives PHMSA the ability to make legal commitments in the form of grants at the new authorized level.

When it announced the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the fee increases in 2022, PHMSA received a total of seven sets of comments from people that represent various industry companies and associations.

“Based on comments received by PHMSA, commenters generally opposed raising fees on small businesses, but were supportive of maintaining the two-tiered system currently in place,” the agency said. “Commenters also expressed support for Congress to raise the statutory fee limit for both small and large businesses.”

Commenters mostly wanted to keep the fees at a reasonable level, especially for smaller transporters.

“We encourage PHMSA to maintain registration fees for small businesses at the current annual level of $250, especially considering current market conditions,” the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association wrote in December 2022 comments on the ANPRM. “Overall, small trucking businesses like those we represent account for 96% of registered motor carriers in the U.S. and are undoubtedly the safest and most diverse operators on our nation’s roads.

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“We acknowledge that maintaining the $250 registration fee for small businesses might mean increasing fees for large businesses, but large carriers should be more capable of adjusting to any fee changes. Undoubtedly, larger carriers have countless economic advantages under the current regulatory environment when analyzing all the taxes, fees, equipment costs and other capital necessary to sustain a trucking business.”

The Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles said its members support the existing programs and see benefits from all of the programs. “But nearly doubling the funding may lead to significantly more unused funds. And without clear goals for where the funds are to be used, we believe such a program will not prosper, and could lead to needless waste,” the council said.