The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed a bill out of committee, Regulatory Accountability Act, that environmentalists say interferes with rules that protect public health and wildlife. The act adds 53 requirements including a mandate that all rules with an economic impact exceeding $110 million must go through a lengthy review. This new regulatory process will make it easier for companies and industries, with deep pockets, to tie up regulations in expensive lawsuits.
— Sierra Club (@SierraClub) May 17, 2017
The implications are far reaching. For example, the process will make it more difficult for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to update meat and poultry safety standards, the Food and Drug Administration to issue new regulations on opioids and the Mine Safety and Health Association to improve protections for workers without approval from their respective industries.
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“This bill is for polluters and others who want to escape accountability ― not for the American people,” Scott Slesinger, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said. “It would make it virtually impossible to safeguard the public from dirty air, unsafe food, contaminated drinking water and other threats.”
The Center for Biological Diversity argued the act would give “powerful corporate interests like pesticide companies and the oil industry veto power over new regulations.”
“This is a disturbing and deceptive attack on core environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act,” Jamie Pang, policy specialist at the center, said after the committee vote. “Republicans know conservation laws are popular, so they use cynical bills with misleading titles to confuse the public. Their real goal is to make it almost impossible to create new protections for our air, water and imperiled wildlife.”
The bill is part of a larger plan by President Donald Trump and Republicans lawmakers to give industries more power in drafting the rules that were meant to regulate them.
— NRDC (@NRDC) May 16, 2017
The same Senate committee also passed two other bills that support the Regulatory Accountability Act.
The Midnight Rules Review Act would allow Congress to overturn a massive number of new regulations in a single vote. This would prevent debate on specific issues such as federal overtime protections, financial regulations and offshore drilling rights.
David Levine, chief executive of the American Sustainable Business Council said, “This would be like taking a chainsaw into surgery.”
The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act ― known as the REINS Act ― requires Congress to pass any new regulations with an economic impact larger than $100 million. Additionally, one chamber of Congress must approve the new regulation within 70 days of the rule’s proposal.
“This process would effectively give a small number of senators veto power over any new significant public health and safety protection,” said Jack Pratt, chemicals campaign director at the Environmental Defense Fund.
— Shepard Fairey (@OBEYGIANT) May 19, 2017