Federal agencies Legislation

Coalition opposes ‘extremist’ Regulatory Accountability Act


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Washington – The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, a group of more than 150 unions and nonprofit organizations, recently voiced its opposition to the bipartisan Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 and asked the Senate to reject the proposed legislation, which would alter the federal rulemaking process.

In a position statement released April 26, the coalition suggested RAA might more appropriately be dubbed the “Regulatory Paralysis Act,” and announced that it has adopted the social media hashtag #GoAwayRAA.

“The Regulatory Accountability Act would cripple the process for issuing and enforcing rules to ensure we have clean air and water, safe food and consumer products, fair wages and safe workplaces, and many other key protections,” the position statement reads.

A later section adds: “It already takes years for a new public protection to navigate the current regulatory process. This bill would require agencies to conduct even more unnecessary and highly speculative analyses, making it take even longer for agencies to create and implement vital new rules.”

One version of the legislation passed the House in January. On April 26, Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced a version for the Senate. If passed, the legislation would be combined into one bill.

The Senate version of the legislation requires a stricter cost-benefit analysis for regulations, establishes automatic review protocol for major regulations and “would ensure that agencies use sound scientific and technical data to justify new rules,” states an April 26 press release issued by Portman’s office.

“We need a smarter regulatory process that promotes job creation, innovation, and economic growth, while also continuing to protect public health and safety and the environment,” Portman said in the release. “This legislation would bring our outdated federal regulatory process into the 21st century by requiring agencies to use the best scientific and economic data available, strengthening checks and balances, and giving the public a voice in the process.”

Members of the coalition disagree. In an April 26 press release, Robert Weissman, president of watchdog group Public Citizen, said “the extremist RAA would impose a permanent blockage on government agencies charged with protecting the American public from predatory corporations.” Scott Slesinger, Natural Resources Defense Council legislative director, agreed.

“This bill, introduced under the guise of ‘reform,’ would make it next to impossible to protect the public from dirty air and water and other dangers to health and safety,” Slesinger said in the release. “It would skew the entire system so that polluters’ views trump any concern about the public. This measure is the ultimate rollback, rewriting countless laws that have safeguarded the public for decades.”

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