The people who bring you regulatory “reform” (Big Business, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their cheerleaders in Congress) are hard at work trying to slow down and even halt regulatory safeguards. Now, a new report by Demos and the U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) reveals that Americans’ lives, health and livelihoods would be put at risk if these so-called “reform” proposals were to become law.
The first in a series of state reports focus on Massachusetts, Ohio and Pennsylvania (with others coming soon), on how their residents would be harmed by each year of delay in the creation of three upcoming proposed bills: The “Regulations from the Executive in Need Of Scrutiny (REINS) Act”, The “Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA),” and The “Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act (RFIA).”
According to the reports, thousands of Americans are at risk:
- In Pennsylvania alone, for each year the government fails to update the restriction on levels of toxic soot in the air the state will face 3,890 preventable deaths and 84,539 preventable asthma attacks among children.
- In Ohio, delaying the Affordable Care Act’s ban on health insurance companies discriminating against patients with pre- existing conditions for one year will put 65,060 newly diagnosed cancer patients at risk of being denied health insurance.
- Allowing food processors to delay one year before using new standards from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safe handling of produce will cause approximately 200,000 local cases of foodborne illness—more than the entire city of Worcester.
photo: Owen Carey
In lieu of an actual jobs plan, Republicans this year decided to declare war on regulations. They made wild claims about how our public safeguards are a threat to the economy and further job growth, despite having exactly zero evidence to support their position.
And in their furious drive to give Big Business a free hand in polluting in the name of corporate profits, to date they have brought 191 Anti-Environment votes to the House floor in the 112th Congress. By a wide margin, this Congress is the most hostile to public health and safety in the history of the Republic.
A fascinating website has tracked the sorry history of this attack on public protections, and it highlights the unbelievable numbers:
They went and did it. The House, primarily along party lines, voted in favor of Big Business over public health and safety by passing the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2011.” It joins the “Regulatory Accountability Act” and the “Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act” as a trio of devastatingly harmful deregulation bills.
The REINS Act, along with its two ugly cousins, would seriously undermine the ability of agencies to protect the public. A vast array of new health, safety, environmental, financial and other regulatory protections would be in jeopardy.
The REINS Act would allow a new Congress to block the implementation of legislation passed by a previous Congress – without actually having to repeal popular laws. It would block the enforcement of health care, financial and environmental reforms that have already been enacted.
One of the GOP goals is to drip as much molasses into the regulatory process as possible, and REINS would do that nicely. By requiring congressional approval of agency rules, it would effectively end rule making – and that’s the plan.
The Coalition for Sensible Standards, of which Public Citizen plays a leading role, outlined the damage the REINS Act would do if it became law in a story today by the Associated Press. Among other things, the bill would:
Public safeguards took another whack by Big Business supporters in Congress today, with the introduction of the “Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011.” Sponsored by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn), the bill is a radical measure that would severely weaken laws that protect our health, safety and the environment. The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, in which Public Citizen plays a leading role, condemns the proposed legislation, while urging members of Congress to reject it.
Photo by paigeh via flickr
Essentially, the bill would tilt the regulatory process in favor of corporate interests over public safety. It would change procedural and evidentiary requirements, add more delays and set an even higher bar than currently exists for issuing needed protections. In short, it would make the process go even slower by tying up agencies in court, and forcing them to defend the safeguards they would seek to establish. Ironically, this bill would breed the very uncertainty it claims to address.
This week, maybe even as early as tomorrow, we will see action on H.R. 2401, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act. It’s a terrible bill that takes aim at two Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safeguards: the Cross State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics standards for power plants. It would require layers of unnecessary analysis and would distract the agency from its mission under the Clean Air Act: safeguarding the public health of all Americans.
Photo by Leo Reynolds via flickr
The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards sent out a press release yesterday which very straightforwardly stated, we can have clean air and jobs.
It cited the Clean Energy Group, a group of energy utilities and power companies, which wrote that the rules are “reasonable and consistent,” “that the electric sector is well-positioned to comply” with the new standards, and encouraged EPA to complete the rule as scheduled. Exelon Corporation commented that the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards proposed rule “will provide the certainty that industry desperately needs to modernize and improve” and will encourage “investment in a clean, modern, efficient generation fleet, thus promoting long-term economic health for both the electric industry and the nation as a whole.”