June 2019 regulatory compliance update

The regulatory compliance team tracks issues of relevance to electric cooperatives. Contact your regulatory compliance consultant with questions about any of these issues.

  • U.S. EPA Revised Definition of Waters of the U.S. – The EPA recently issued a proposed rule to revise the definition used to determine the regulation of “waters” as it applies to the Clean Water Act. Under this, the scope of what would constitute a “water” would narrow significantly and generally only cover traditional navigable waters. Flows from ditches, cropland and such that only flow in response to precipitation would not normally be included in the revised definition.
  • Department of Labor Inflation-Adjusted Civil Penalties – The Department of Labor officially adopted inflation-adjusted civil penalties for several penalties under its jurisdiction, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Beginning Jan. 23, 2019, the maximum OSHA monetary penalty for a serious violation adjusts to $13,260 and willful violation to over $132,000. States with their own program, including Indiana, are required to adopt the revised structure and/or be as stringent with their own penalties.
  • OSHA Requests Information About Use of Powered Industrial Trucks – OSHA has requested information from the maritime and construction industries on the use of industrial trucks, including forklifts. This information will be used to evaluate the current regulatory standards and their application. The agency would like information about general use, equipment types, age of equipment, retrofitting of trucks, accidents and injuries involving truck use, etc. Comments can be submitted until June 2019.
  • Amended RUS Specifications for Underground Electric Distribution – The Rural Utilities Service officially adopted revised written technical specifications for underground distribution. “Specifications and Drawings for Underground Electrical Distribution” updates past specification and practices. The rule was effective November 2018.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Proposes Exempting Some Non-Native Bird Species – The FWS is accepting comments on a draft list of non-native bird species to which the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) would not apply. If approved, the MBTA would limit the act’s protections to bird species that are native to the U.S. and its territories and that are present because of natural and ecological processes, rather than by human activity.
  • IOSHA Safety Order Penalty Increase – Indiana HEA 1341 adjusts the fines associated with an Indiana employer who willfully or knowingly violates an IOSHA safety order to a civil penalty of from $9,472 to $132,598, per violation. The revised law becomes effective on July 1, 2019.
  • Vehicle Weight –Indiana SEA 144 allows Indiana electric cooperatives to exceed the single-axle weight limit by a pre-determined amount based on a formula prepared by INDOT. This annual overweight permit option allows additional regulatory flexibility. IEC is working with the state in its implementation of this process.
  • OSHA Lock Out/Tag Out Request for Information – OSHA requested in May information about the current use of circuit control and robotic devices used to control hazardous energy sources. They are seeking to better understand how these devices are used and affect the implementation of the existing standards. IEC is participating in an NRECA-sponsored effort to collect and communicate information from electric cooperatives.
  • New OSHA Safety Standards for Material Handling and Lifting Slings – The amended standards now require only the use of lifting slings and shackles with permanently-affixed identification marking and clearly-displayed maximum load capacities. The amendments were effective April 15, 2019.
  • FMCSA Final Rule on Entry-Level Commercial License – The FMCSA issued a final rule in March for new entry-level commercial drivers to now reduce the amount of classroom instruction needed for a driver upgrading from a current Class B to a Class A license. The amendment was effective in May and the full driver training rule will be effective in 2020.
  • Monarch Butterfly Conservation Program – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing the monarch butterfly as an endangered species. NRECA and other affected industries are working on a voluntary conservation program for interested members under the National Butterfly Candidate Conservation Agreement. If finalized, this voluntary action, coordinated through the University of Illinois, may help avoid the need for the endangered listing.