New regs for Friday: Airplanes, highways, ozone

Friday's edition of the Federal Register contains new rules for airplane safety, highway and bridge construction, pesticides used by farmers and certain chemical substances.

Here's what is happening:

Airplanes: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering new aviation safety rules for airlines and others in the industry to prevent plane crashes, the agency said Thursday.

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The FAA proposed changes to the voluntary Aviation Safety Action Program that it hopes will encourage broader participation among air carriers so they will report safety concerns.

"The FAA has determined that identifying these precursors is essential to further reducing the already low accident rate," the agency wrote.

The public has 60 days to comment.

Highways and bridges: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is loosening its oversight of states that receive federal grants to build highways and bridges, the agency announced Thursday.

Since the 1990s, the agency's value engineering regulations have required these states to conduct cost-benefit analysis of any highway improvement project that costs more than $25 million, and any bridge project that costs more than $20 million.

However, the FHWA said Thursday it is increasing those thresholds to $50 million for highways and $40 million for bridges, meaning more projects can be conducted without federal oversight.

The new rules go into effect in 30 days.

Pesticides: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering new pesticide regulations that could affect farmers and food manufacturers, the agency said Thursday.

The EPA announced it is reviewing petitions that request permission for residues of certain pesticides to be sprayed on various commodities.

The public has 30 days to comment.

Ozone: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not take action against dozens of communities around the country that a green group says have violated the agency's ozone rules.

The EPA said Thursday it is denying a petition by the Sierra Club to designate these 57 areas as not complying with the national ambient air quality standards for ozone.

Acid: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is loosening the restrictions on some chemicals that contain sulfuric acid, which can be used as a cleaning agent, the agency said Thursday.

The EPA establishes limits on how much sulfuric acid can be used, but said it is exempting sulfuric acid from those limits in certain circumstances, such as when it is used on tables and counters where food is made at restaurants. 

The changes go into effect immediately. 

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