Overnight Regulation: OSHA silica rule coming soon

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, a daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill, the federal agencies and beyond. It's Tuesday evening here in Washington, where the Japanese Embassy is organizing a trip with more than two dozen Hispanic leaders to the pacific nation just in time for the cherry blossoms. Here's the latest.

 

THE BIG STORY:

The Labor Department is preparing to issue controversial silica protections for workers.

After years of delay, the Labor Department could finalize the silica rules as early as this week, after they were quietly approved by the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Monday.

One source speculated the Labor Department will announce the silica rule on Thursday.

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The final rules have not yet been revealed to the public, but the proposed regulation called for manufacturers to cut in half workers' exposure to silica dust, which has been linked to cancer.

The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is facing criticism from all sides -- unions, industry, and workplace safety and health groups -- over the silica rule.

Labor, safety, and health groups say the silica rules have been on hold for far too long, but industry officials say they will hurt business.

The silica rules have not been updated since they were originally issued in the 1970s, sources say.

OSHA sent the proposed rule to the White House in February 2011, but waited more than two years for the OMB to complete its review. After a lengthy comment period and a series of public hearings, the rule was sent back to the White House last December.

Now that the OMB has approved the final rule, OSHA is free to release it at any time.

Amit Narang, the regulatory director at the left-leaning Public Citizen, called the delay "worrisome."

"This rule is badly outdated," he said. 

"Everyone who has worked on this issue has been frustrated by the delays and the slowness of the process," said Peg Seminario, the AFL-CIO's director of safety and health. "But we're thrilled that it's finally coming out."

The Labor Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. http://bit.ly/1XKQ5dx

 

ON TAP FOR WEDNESDAY

The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Interior will hold a hearing to examine the Bureau of Land Management's Public Lands Leasing. http://1.usa.gov/1ZpwLUM

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the administration's plan to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. http://1.usa.gov/1pNVUw1

The House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Environment will hold a hearing to examine EPA's regional haze program. http://1.usa.gov/1ReiyIp

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

The Obama administration will publish 206 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will issue new glazing standards.

The safety standards will apply to the use of architectural glazing materials that are used around household doors and bathtubs. It will affect the test procedures for glazing materials.

The new rules go into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/1PpFK0M

--The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will issue new income eligibility requirements for school meal programs.

The USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) runs the school meal programs for children from low-income families. It is updating the income requirements to "direct benefits to those children most in need."

The new income requirements will apply during the coming school year, and go into effect starting July 1, 2016. http://bit.ly/1UDcxqZ

--The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will issue new rules to protect dolphins from tuna fishing boats.

Tuna fisheries that use "dolphin-safe labels" will face new certification requirements that take into account the mortality and injury rate of dolphins.

The changes go into effect immediately. http://bit.ly/1RiUgJV

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW 

FCC's Lifeline expansion could see changes before vote http://bit.ly/1WGpjTs

Supreme Court considers restructuring Puerto Rico debts http://bit.ly/1SfOY43

FDA toughens safety labels painkillers http://bit.ly/1U62quY

FTC Commissioner to resign at the end of the month http://bit.ly/1LEU4rx

Supreme Court sides with Alaskan moose hunter in hovercraft case http://bit.ly/22ugZNB

Supreme Court upholds judgment against Tyson Foods http://bit.ly/25kak7u

Feds defend fracking rule against judicial hold - http://bit.ly/1LEYkY6

In criminal rulings, Garland's record is not so liberal - The New York Times http://nyti.ms/21FXUCh

U.S. giving more ex-felons voting rights back - Reuters http://reut.rs/25j1Opq

 

BY THE NUMBERS

$72 billion: Puerto Rico's total debt.

$20 billion: Debt Puerto Rico's utilities hold. 

$5.8 million: Lower court award for Tyson Foods workers in a class-action suit upheld by the Supreme Court Tuesday.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"This rule is badly outdated," -- Amit Narang, regulatory director at Public Citizen, speaking about the Labor Department's silica rule. http://bit.ly/1XKQ5dx

 

We'll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill's Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and @wheelerlydia.

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