June 13, 2016
In a major victory for professional engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule on emission standards in the oil and natural gas sectors asserts a strong, well- reasoned and well-supported rationale for the need for licensed professional engineers to be in responsible charge on all engineering projects, both in an independent third-party capacity, as well as in an in-house role. The rule states, “professional engineers, whether independent or employees of a facility, being professionals, will uphold the integrity of their profession and only certify documents that meet the prescribed regulatory requirements and that the integrity of both the professional engineer and the professional oversight of boards licensing professional engineers are sufficient to prevent any abuses.”
June 8, 2016
On June 7, Congress passed a sweeping overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The legislation now goes to the president for his expected signature. NSPE is closely monitoring how this legislation will impact PEs.
This legislation provides the first major revamp since the legislation’s enactment 40 years ago. The bill modifies the standards and procedures by which the Environmental Protection Agency evaluates and determines the toxicity of chemicals in industrial and consumer products.
May 25, 2016
On May 20, NSPE submitted a letter to Ohio House Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Al Landis in opposition to a bill (H.B. 214) on the selection of piping material for use on water, wastewater, and storm drainage projects. The bill prohibits a public authority from preferring one type of piping material over another on state-funded projects unless sound engineering practices suggest a certain piping material is more suitable to the project.
NSPE’s letter was included in the Ohio Society of Professional Engineer’s formal submission to the committee, which held a hearing on the legislation on May 24.
May 11, 2016
Every year, NSPE and ACEC partner to administer the QBS Awards, recognizing public and private entities that make exemplary use of the qualifications-based selection process at the federal, state and local levels. QBS Award winners serve as examples of how well the QBS process works, and they help NSPE and ACEC promote the practice of QBS in jurisdictions that do not use, or underutilize, QBS to procure engineering services. NSPE and ACEC are now seeking nominations for the 2016 QBS Awards. The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, July 8, 2016. Nominations may come from an NSPE State Chapter, an ACEC Member Organization, a public or private entity, or an individual in the public or private sector. Self-nomination is also permitted. Please mail or email nominations to Charles Kim with ACEC to firstname.lastname@example.org and Nicholas Cox with NSPE at email@example.com.
May 4, 2016
NSPE continues to provide its expertise in the autonomous vehicle discussion, advancing the Society’s mission of protecting the public health, safety, and welfare in the development and deployment of these technologies. On May 3, NSPE President Tim Austin, P.E., F.NSPE, submitted a formal comment for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rulemaking, expected to be finalized this summer.
In April, NHTSA convened a national hearing in Washington, DC, to gather input on developing Guidelines for the Safe Deployment and Operation of Automated Vehicle Safety Technologies. NSPE Executive Director Mark Golden presented on NSPE’s position.
May 2, 2016
On April 29, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement completed a process six years in the making: developing comprehensive safety regulations in response to the Deepwater Horizon blowout disaster in 2010. The initial explosion aboard an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in 11 deaths and the discharge of more than three million barrels of oil.
April 25, 2016
In an April 13 letter to NSPE President Tim Austin, P.E., F.NSPE, the Environmental Protection Agency requested that NSPE review and provide input to a best practices report and checklist the agency is developing in response to the Gold King Mine disaster. Last year, a blowout at the Colorado mine resulted in the release of more than three million gallons of toxic wastewater that polluted rivers in three states. NSPE has played a leading role in the aftermath to minimize similar incidents and to require a licensed professional engineer in responsible charge of all federal engineering projects. NSPE contacted EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to offer NSPE’s expertise. This latest development is an important step forward as the public and federal stakeholders gain greater understanding of the value and necessity of the PE to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. NSPE will continue to report updates as this situation develops.
April 14, 2016
On April 13, the National Society of Professional Engineers and Alaska Society of Professional Engineers submitted a joint letter regarding comments made by the Rural Utilities Service, an agency of the Department of Agriculture, as part of its final rule for Section 306D Water Systems for Rural and Native Villages in Alaska. NSPE and ASPE recognize that the rule in question is final. However, the substance of the rule challenges the value and integrity of the licensed professional engineer (PE) in such a way that a response was necessary to clarify the role that PEs can and do play in helping rural villages. NSPE and ASPE therefore submitted further comment.
April 11, 2016
On April 8, NSPE Executive Director Mark Golden presented NSPE’s position and provided input on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed rulemaking for autonomous vehicles at a national hearing convened in Washington, DC at the Department of Transportation. In late January, the Department of Transportation announced that NHTSA would develop and publish federal regulations for deployment of fully autonomous vehicles within six months.
NSPE has been a leading advocate on the need to place the public health, safety, and welfare first by requiring a licensed professional engineer to play a key role in the development, testing, and safety certification of autonomous vehicles. Recognizing the promise of autonomous vehicles, NSPE also recognizes the major engineering, technological, and ethical limitations that have yet to be addressed as part of the rulemaking process.
March 31, 2016
On March 14, the Environmental Protection Agency asked for comment on a proposed rule (Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs Under the Clean Air Act) that would require PEs as part of the audit team in third-party certifications. This action is in response to catastrophic chemical facility incidents in the US, including an explosion at a fertilizer facility in West, Texas, on April 17, 2013, that killed 15 people. The EPA's goal is to ensure the involvement of "competent auditors that also have an ethical obligation to perform unbiased work" in the interest of protecting the public health, safety, and welfare.