New regs for Thursday: OSHA publishes silica rule

Silica: 
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is publishing its proposal for limits on the amount of silica dust to which workers can be exposed.

The draft regulations were unveiled last month after more than two years of review at the White House. Unions, Democrats and public interest advocates had heavily criticized the Obama administration for delaying the rule, which OSHA has estimated will save nearly 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of the lung disease silicosis per year. 

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The dust can be released at construction sites, shipyards and other places where workers use heavy machinery.

Now that the draft limits have been published, the public will have 90 days to comment on the proposal.

Financial markets:
Financial regulators are taking a hard look at the automated systems that derivatives traders use to buy and sell at high speeds.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is publishing a “concept release” cataloguing and evaluating current industry practices. That notice, on which it wants the public to comment, will help to define whether new rules or regulations should be issued to mitigate risks in the high-speed systems. 

“Traditional risk controls and safeguards that relied on human judgment and speeds, and which were appropriate to manual and/or floor-based trading environments, must be reevaluated in light of new market structures,” the agency said in its notice.

The action was first announced on Monday.

Federal workers:
Employees at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are being given an exception to general rules preventing them from having a financial stake in projects that may be subsidized by the department.

In the broader rules, HUD neglected to ensure that employees who lived in the house or apartment supported by the department would be able to stay there.

The new regulation maintains the prohibition on employees’ financial interests “except to the extent that such interest represents assistance on the employee’s principal residence.” 

Airports:
The Federal Aviation Administration is revising its rules for filing complaints against federally assisted airports. 

Under the new final regulation, people who feel they have been wronged by the airports will be able to file their complaints electronically.

Agriculture:
Sharwil avocados from Hawaii can be sent throughout the continental United States as result of a new regulation from the Department of Agriculture. Before shipment, the avocados’ packinghouses and production facilities will need to be registered and monitored and will have to meet certain standards.

The variety of the fruit has small seeds and a green skin when ripe, unlike more common Haas avocados. 

Environmental impacts:
Federal regulators are ruling that activities that restore lands impacted by roads, trails, debris and water systems like pipes and dikes do not require environmental impact statements or analyses.

The Forest Service has decided that that sort of work will normally not result in an impact on the environment. The exceptions will help the agency more efficiently clean up the areas, it said. 

Nuclear facilities:
The Energy Department is updating rules for its program aimed at making sure people who deal with some nuclear material are reliable.

The changes eliminate out-of-date provisions and “do not alter substantive rights or obligations under current law,” the department said. 

Additionally, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is refusing to set new rules requiring power plant managers to better measure the range of temperatures in the cores. The agency had been asked to issue the rule, but it said there is “no operational necessity” for the requirement. 

Endangered species:
A species of plant known as the Georgia rockcress should be declared threatened under the Endangered Species Act, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, and critical habitat in Georgia and Alabama should be protected for it to thrive. 

Fishing:
Commercial fishing regulators are revising the limit for catching conch in regions around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Broadband:
The Federal Communications Commission is releasing a new draft cost model outlining its options to bring high-speed broadband Internet to regions across the country.

Kids and parents:
The Federal Trade Commission is looking for input from the public on whether or not to approve a method for some websites to obtain parental consent

Pesticides:
The Environmental Protection Agency has received petitions asking for new or altered limits for residues of pesticide chemicals on a variety of plants and other commodities.