MSBC letter to Collins and King opposing the war on federal safeguards

  • Posted on: 12 May 2017
  • By: admin

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Dear Senators Collins and King,

On behalf of organizations throughout Maine, we urge you to oppose the Regulatory Accountability Act (S. 951) and similar proposals which would make it more difficult, time-consuming and costly for federal agencies to develop, implement and enforce standards and safeguards for the protection of Mainers and their families.

Mainers benefit – in myriad ways – from standards and safeguards that protect average people from harms and allow polluters and other special interests to be held accountable for their actions.

For example,
- The EPA plays a central role in protecting our air quality, providing benefits to the 124,015 adults and 24,860 children in Maine diagnosed with asthma. EPA programs to reduce dangerous air pollution and toxic mercury also save up to 80 lives per year.
- More than 660,000 Mainers depend on public drinking water systems, which federal standards help to ensure are safe and reliable.
- Maine families and businesses saved over $380 million dollars in energy costs in 2015 thanks to federal appliance efficiency standards.

Standards like these would be difficult, if not impossible, to put in place under S. 951. In addition to environmental harms, Mainers deserve to expect they will be protected from food contamination, workplace exposure, consumer product, financial service and other harms. But they won’t get the protections they need if the RAA or similar legislation passes that makes it difficult or impossible for the federal government to do its job.

The RAA as recently introduced (S. 951) illustrates some of our key concerns:
• The RAA would allow endless delay of safeguards because its provisions enable any opponent of a regulation to drag out the project by requiring the agency to engage in more policy analysis.
• This bill risks public health and safety by requiring agencies to overemphasize the cost and undefined “cost effectiveness” of compliance when establishing protections.
• The bill creates new opportunities for industry and polluters tie up the process with trial-like formal hearings, and it creates numerous new opportunities to sue agencies in court in order to slow down the process of finalizing and implementing new safeguards.
• For more than 70 years, the law has allowed the government to adopt new safeguards in response to emergencies. The bill would make it much harder for agencies to take urgently needed actions, and emergency rules would be revoked automatically if anyone submits formal complaints about the standards, or the agency fails to complete the near-impossible task of going through the procedural hurdles set out by the RAA within six months.
• The bill includes a “gag order” that greatly restricts an agency from “communicat[ing] through written, oral, electronic, or other means, to the public” about why a standard once it is has been proposed. That means that agencies might not be allowed to correct the record even if opponents make false or misleading statements about it.

It will help no one, over the long-term, if the regulatory process becomes more ideological and partisan rather than more fact-based. The RAA is not a “reform” bill that tinkers with the regulatory system to improve it. Rather, it tries to upend the system so it will be impossible for it to work. We urge you to oppose the RAA and similar efforts to undermine vital laws that protect Mainers’ health and well-being.