Potential cost of new regulations - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Potential cost of new regulations

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"The cost of expedited delivery to stores could become prohibitive and could ruin a lot of Christmases for children," Christopher McLean, executive director of a retailers coalition that includes Amazon.com, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Target, and Wal-Mart, told Transportation Department officials at a meeting earlier this year, though that's unlikely this Christmas.

Industry lobbyists say the government already has enough rules to ensure safe battery shipments; they say the problem is that a relative few shippers aren't following current packaging requirements. They recommend stronger enforcement. Indeed, many of the more than 40 documented incidents of lithium battery fires in flight or at airports involved improperly packaged or handled batteries.

George Kerchner, a lobbyist for the rechargeable battery industry, wrote Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last month asking him not to let the Dubai crash cause regulators to rush put new rules in place.  "We urge that any actions taken by DOT be justified by facts, not speculation or political pressures," Kerchner wrote. "They also should be narrowly drawn to minimize disruption of commerce in a holiday season that will be critical to the nation's economic recovery."

A bill that would prod DOT to move faster on new rules is opposed by industry supporters in Congress. Pilots and safety advocates say the industry opposition is typical of the hurdles they face when trying to get government regulators to take action to prevent a tragedy even when there is clear evidence of danger.

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