Buy America Requirements; Bi-Metallic Composite Conducting Rail
Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).
Following the two recent Buy America rulemakings pursuant to the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) received a petition for reconsideration of the treatment of bi-metallic composite conducting rail as a steel product that must be manufactured in the United States. At present, FTA's Buy America regulation treats both running rail and contact rail as a steel or iron product which must be manufactured entirely in the United States. During the recent rulemakings, several commenters proposed that bi-metallic rail be instead categorized as ``traction power equipment.'' If adopted, the proposal would have changed the regulatory treatment of contact rail based on the rail's composition. As traction power equipment, bi-metallic rail would have been subject to a lower 60 percent domestic content requirement, in contrast to running rail made of steel and iron, which must contain 100 percent domestic content. In addition, as traction power equipment, bi- metallic rail would be subject only to ``final assembly'' in the United States, which may be a less rigorous process than the manufacturing process required for other forms of power rail, including steel and iron. Because FTA believed adopting the proposal in the Final Rule would have altered the regulatory environment for affected parties who may have been unaware of the proposal, including manufacturers of steel and iron contact rail, without subjecting the issue to full notice-and- comment from all affected parties, FTA declined to adopt the proposal, instead deferring action to this separate rulemaking. Through this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM), FTA proposes to amend its Buy America regulations to re-categorize bi-metallic composite conducting rail as ``traction power equipment'' which need only consist of 60 percent domestic content, with final assembly taking place in the United States.