Mr. John Renock
Director of Operations
Central New York Regional Transport Authority
200 Cortland Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13205

Dear Mr. Renock:

Mr. M. Judson Brown, the project manager for your Transit Authority's compressed natural gas (CNG) bus project, requested that I explain the Federal regulation of CNG containers to you. According to Mr. Brown's letter, the Central New York Regional Transit Authority believes that certain CNG fuel containers are required to be re-inspected and hydrostatically retested every three years.

The short explanation is that this agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has no authority to regulate the reinspection or retesting of CNG containers used to fuel motor vehicles, after the first consumer purchase. With regard to Mr. Brown's inquiry into the authority of the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) to require reinspection and retesting, we are forwarding your letter to RSPA so that officials of that agency can explain their regulations to you.

NHTSA has been authorized by Congress to issue Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs) for new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle equipment. The agency has used this authority to issue FMVSS No. 304, Compressed natural gas fuel container integrity, (49 CFR 571.304) which specifies requirements for the integrity of new CNG containers used to fuel motor vehicles. Each new CNG container manufactured on or after March 27, 1995 (the date the standard took effect) must comply with FMVSS No. 304 and be certified as complying with that standard when it is sold. However, after the first consumer purchase of a motor vehicle or an item of motor vehicle equipment, NHTSA's authority is much more limited and does not extend to the reinspection or retesting of motor vehicles or such equipment.

I hope you find this information helpful. If you have any other questions, please contact Marvin Shaw at this address or by phone at (202) 366-2992.


John Womack Acting Chief Counsel

cc: M. Judson Brown ref:304 d:7/18/95