Governments planning cross-border trucking initiatives

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OTTAWA, Ont. –- Canada and the US have agreed to co-operate more closely on a number of transportation issues and harmonize more safety and security regulations.

The consensus to work together was formalized by the Canada-United States Regulatory Co-operation Council and given the name of the Joint Forward Plan August 2014. It is a follow-up to an earlier program begun in 2011 that saw the two nations join together on 29 cross-border initiatives.

Along with commitments to address concerns of the pharmaceutical and agri-food industries, the two governments have promised to make a number of changes that are said to benefit trucking, transportation and logistics businesses. Chief among these are the promise to simplify the rules surrounding the use of natural gas as a fuel source for transportation. Natural Resources Canada and the US Department of Energy promise to develop “common codes and standards by industry organizations, and explore any opportunities for alignment among stakeholders. This includes a commitment to share information, identify emerging areas in natural gas deployment, and explore challenges in codes and standards harmonization.”

In response to this part of the plan, the Canadian Gas Association and the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance issued a statement of support of the venture.

“Natural gas can help reduce the operating costs of medium-and heavy-duty trucks, transit buses, rail, marine, and off-road fleets. This helps keep the Canadian economy moving forward. Greater cooperation between the two countries will help ensure consumer choice, foster economic development, and keep Canada competitive, particularly with our biggest trading partner, the United States,” said Timothy M. Egan, president of the Canadian Gas Association.

“North America has a tremendous natural gas resource advantage. Regulatory cooperation supporting greater use of natural gas in the transportation sector is a win-win for both Canada and the United States,” said Alicia Milner, president of the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance. “Canada’s natural gas vehicle industry looks forward to continued collaboration with Natural Resources Canada to address technical barriers and to provide outreach to fleets interested in natural gas vehicle deployment.”

The Joint Forward Plan also promises work on technology specific to the trucking industry as Transport Canada and the US Department of Transportation have agreed to collaborate on collected vehicle technology. Specifically, they intend to develop vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications technology and applications for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, including establishing the “architecture and standards to support interoperable deployment. This will include…joint planning and priority-setting, collaborative research projects, as well as information exchanges to support analyses as well as architecture and standards development.”

The two countries also intend to come closer together in the name of truck safety with Transport Canada and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) making efforts to align new and updated light- and heavy-duty vehicle motor vehicle safety standards. The two organizations may “undertake joint testing and research, joint and collaborative risk assessments, and exchange technical data and information to support future aligned standards development decisions in both countries. They will also consider how single test methodologies could be implemented in both countries.”

Canada and the US have also agreed to continue progress towards developing and adopting aligned vehicle and engine emission regulations. This work will be done by the U.S.-Canada Air Quality Committee (AQC). According to the governments’ plan “these cooperative efforts are expected to include information-sharing, technical work-sharing, scientific collaboration and testing related to vehicle and engine emissions.”

The Canada-United States Regulatory Co-operation Council also promises to harmonize the way dangerous goods are transported and handled, and not just by the trucking industry. The Forward Plan states that its “objectives include: aligning Canadian and US placarding requirements; mutual recognition of United Nations (UN) standard pressure receptacles (UN cylinders); recognition of inspection under US requirements for highway; alignment and mutual recognition of tank truck (cargo tank) standards, including vehicles used to transport bulk explosives and repair facilities; mutual recognition of conditions for One Time Movement Approvals; and explosives approvals.”

Some of the other transportation-related initiatives include the work on electronic certification and delivery systems to track the movement of animals and plants from country to country; marine safety and environmental stewardship programs to regulate coastal shipping in the Arctic, East and West coasts, and the Great Lakes; reduce greenhouse gas emissions from locomotives, and improving both rail and aviation safety.

This second round of collaborative efforts is scheduled to last between three and five years (depending on the requirements of the individual projects). According to the Joint Forward Plan’s timeline, the next phase of the project should happen in six months when more details will be released for each initiative and regulatory partnerships statements will be posted.

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