Monday, March 28, 2005

Overhauling the Regs

From a piece on the Bush assault on regulatory protections in the March 15, 2005 Seattle PI:
"Since taking office more than four years ago, the Bush administration has quietly pushed ahead with a broad, largely successful effort that has resulted in a major overhaul of protections to health, safety and the environment.
The strategy has been to use regulation, decree and rule making to achieve what Congress has blocked. "

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the OMB released its 2005 report on nominations for Regulatory Reform of the US Manufacturing Sector, a good part of which suggestions the White House has endorsed. Some real eye-openers there if you choose to wade through it, including a suggestion that, due to the burden, restrictions surrounding the exposure of workers to hexavalent chromium (see page 61) should be lifted or relaxed for small business. Hexavalent chromium, also known as Chromium 6, was the agent that poisoned so many of the folks Erin Brockovitch went to bat for. A human carciniogen when inhaled, it is also a mutagen and can permanently damage DNA.

These same "culture of life" mavens who pulled out the big guns to save one politically-beneficial life are more than happy to let the plutocrats keeping pumping mercury toxins into the air, remove safety regs from the workplace, compromise regulations protecting the public from tainted food and drugs, and pull the rug out from under beneficiaries of FMLA. OMB Watch has a very nice summation of the coming storm here, which includes:

  • Weakening even further the rules governing maximum hours that companies can force their truck drivers to work

  • Exempting more auto industry manufacturers from the requirement to submit information of potential defects to an early warning database

  • Rolling back a 2001 rule that lowered the reporting threshold for lead

  • Allowing mine companies to avoid improving work conditions by instead rotating miner shifts to reduce workers’ exposure to diesel particulate matter

  • Weakening protections against Listeria for makers of ready-to-eat meat products
  • With a little luck and the usual rollover from the Dems, this administration can have the entire country looking like 1880s Chicago in a matter of a generation.

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