Agencies delay rules in regulatory agenda

Agencies delay rules in regulatory agenda
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It’s been less than 24 hours since the White House released its semiannual regulatory roadmap, and groups are combing through the rule-making agenda for the federal agencies.

The Center for Progressive Reform said Friday it found 16 important rules that have been delayed.

Among them are the Environmental Protection Agency’s new to limits on greenhouse gas emissions for new power plants. The rule, which was expected in January, will now be out in August.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was expected to update and modernize its reporting system to better track workplace injuries in a final rule-making in August, but the agency has delayed that rule until September. OSHA was also expected to propose new rules in January to protect steel workers from exposure to beryllium, a brittle, steel-gray metal linked to serious illnesses. That notice of public rule-making is now expected this month.

Meanwhile, the Mine Safety and Health Administration pushed back new rules to better protect metal and nonmetal miners from exposure to silica dust, which can cause an irreversible lung disease known as silicosis. The final rules, originally due out in October, will be finalized in April 2016.

The Center for Progressive reform said it's still parsing through the report, and there are likely to be more than 16 rules that are delayed.

“A lot of people call this a regulatory agenda, but from my perspective, it’s just a catalogue of new regulatory delays,” said James Goodwin, the center's senior policy analyst.

Year after year, from one unified agenda to another, Goodwin said rules are pushed back by be as much as six, eight or 12 months.

“For me, it’s disappointing because it suggests that agencies aren’t making as much progress on these rules as they should be or could be,” he said. “The real shame is, these rules aren’t being created for no reason. They’re going to deliver benefits for public heath, safety and the environment.”

Take the EPA’s promise to regulate perchlorate in drinking water, for example.  

Goodwin said the agency started to draft rules for the harmful chemical, which is used in rocket fuel, during the George W. Bush administration but later dropped the rules.

“In 2011, Obama committed to doing something about it, and now we’re still sitting here waiting for him to do anything,” he said.

In the fall, the EPA said it would release its proposed rule by February 2016. That deadline has been pushed to March 2017 with a final rule due out in September 2018.