House FAA Vote to Keep U.S. Competitive in Lithium Batteries

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"By harmonizing U.S. regulations with the international standards, the House protected both aviation safety and the continued competitiveness of major U.S. industries."

When the U.S. House passed H.R. 658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act, it also acted to prevent federal regulators from imposing unnecessarily burdensome and expensive rules on the shipping of lithium batteries as air cargo.

The important language contained in the bill lies in SEC. 814. Air Transportation of Lithium Cells and Batteries:
The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not issue or enforce any regulation or other requirement regarding the transportation by aircraft of lithium metal cells or batteries or lithium ion cells or batteries, whether transported separately or packed with or contained in equipment, if the requirement is more stringent than the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air.
By harmonizing U.S. regulations with the international standards, the House protected both aviation safety and the continued competitiveness of major U.S. industries, not just battery manufacturers but also those companies that use the batteries, such as medical device manufacturers.

Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) had originally planned to offer language that would have made air shipments of lithium batteries almost impossible. The National Association of Manufacturers issued a Key Vote letter against the amendment, and in a news release argued, "Billions of lithium batteries are shipped via air cargo annually without incident. This flawed amendment would create massive disruptions in supply chains and postpone the delivery of life-saving medical devices and critical defense communication equipment." Thankfully, Filner withdrew his amendment.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association also hailed passage of the FAA bill with the lithium-battery provision.

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