BATON ROUGE, La. — State regulators are allowing more companies to haul toxic waste in Louisiana, but stopped short of matching the standards sought by state lawmakers in a new law.
The Public Service Commission agreed Wednesday in a 4-0 vote to update its trucking regulations. But The Advocate reports the commission didn’t go as far as a new state law demands with the hazardous waste rules.
PSC Chairman Eric Skrmetta said the commission instead will continue with its lawsuit in Baton Rouge district court challenging whether lawmakers have the right to decide how truckers operate.
The regulations that define how truckers are certified were written to decrease chaos and limit the task of hauling the dangerous byproducts to companies that met specific standards. But they allowed a small number of companies granted permits to challenge the applications of potential competitors in open hearings.
Critics who pushed for the state law say truckers already certified to haul hazardous waste had become a monopoly. In the law, legislators dismissed many of the PSC’s regulations and suggested the commissioners should only concern themselves with whether the hauler had the proper equipment, insurance and financing.
“This is not about safety. It’s about free enterprise. It’s about fair competition,” Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, a Jennings Republican who sponsored the law, said during the legislative session.
The regulatory panel argues it is not like other state agencies whose rules must be approved by the Legislature because it is a stand-alone agency created in the constitution.
“It is our rule, and we voted on it using our constitutional authority,” Skrmetta said. “We are going to go forward and challenge their authority to enter into our sphere.”