House Passes Bill Protecting Companies from Lithium Batteries Hazardous Materials Classification

April 07, 2011 by Jeff Shepard

The United States House of Representatives has approved legislation that would prevent the U.S. from enacting a proposed rule limiting lithium-ion battery shipments by classifying the batteries as hazardous materials. The legislation addresses a rule proposed by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) along with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The new legislation conflicts with a proposed rule by the PHMSA that would impose additional limitations on shipments of lithium batteries over concerns that they may overheat and ignite during transport. If the rule came into effect, manufacturers, retailers and airlines would all be subject to new packaging, training and handling requirements.

According to an analysis commissioned by the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association, the limitations would cost companies such as Apple Inc., Panasonic Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. $1.13 billion the first year in packaging, transportation, logistical and training costs.

The House bill differs from its Senate counterpart, so there will be a joint session to negotiate the differences before the bill would actually be forwarded on to President Obama.