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The Scariest Legislation You've Never Heard of
By Jack Pratt
Congress is moving forward with sweeping legislation that could undercut major laws that keep our food, water, workers and children's products safe.
Yet, surprisingly little attention has been paid to a bill that could drastically reshape the way we think about government, while threatening to undermine the very idea that any product at all—from pacifiers to peanuts—will remain safe going forward.
It's what Steve Bannon has in mind when he says he wants to deconstruct the administrative state. And it paves the way for a shoddy government with more, and slower bureaucracy, than we can ever imagine.
Bill "Cutting Red Tape" Would Tie Agencies in Knots
The Regulatory Accountability Act would fundamentally alter how Americans protect themselves from unsafe pollution, chemicals, drugs and other dangers—by undermining the Clean Air Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and a slew of other laws affecting public health and safety.
Rather than repealing these popular laws, the bill would simply hobble them by, in effect, preventing agencies from creating or enforcing rules under such laws.
The sound-bite description of the bill makes the Regulatory Accountability Act sound reasonable: Cut red tape and reduce government regulation. In reality, it would tie federal agencies in knots.
A blog post by my colleagues Rosalie Winn and Martha Roberts has a chart showing the dizzying list of requirements an agency would fact before it could issue a new rule.
In essence, it takes the things Americans already hate about government—that it's slow, bureaucratic and too responsive to special interests—and makes it worse.
Example: Protection Against Toxic Formaldehyde
In 2010, Congress ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to shield the public from formaldehyde in imported floorboards and other wood products. Research had shown the chemical can cause cancer, asthma and other dangerous health effects.
The EPA has since spent seven years carefully studying ways to protect Americans from this dangerous material. Yet under the Regulatory Accountability Act, it would take even longer to implement such protections, if they even get to that point.
Under the proposed law, federal agencies would face a gauntlet of cost analyses and trial-like proceedings that can last weeks. What's more, such complex, burdensome procedures would make it hard for average Americans to participate and be heard.
Backdoor Legislation is Advancing Quietly
Because legislation to outright repeal landmark safeguards would spark public outrage, the Regulatory Accountability Act represents a backdoor attack on fundamental protections that has largely gone unnoticed. In fact, the bill already passed the House in January by a 238-183 vote, and a Senate committee is expected to vote on the bill on May 17.
They are looking to change how our government works.
If taking on landmark laws under the guise of regulatory reform has largely escaped public notice, surely that would change when Americans begin to see tainted food, contaminated drugs, unhealthy pollution levels and unsafe vehicles.
The question now is whether members of Congress will defeat this bill before their constituents pay the price.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Ketura Persellin
Global consumption of beef, lamb and goat is expected to rise by almost 90 percent between 2010 and 2050. But that doesn't mean you need to eat more meat. In fact, recent news from Washington gives you even less confidence in your meat: Pork inspections may be taken over by the industry itself, if a Trump administration proposal goes into effect, putting tests for deadly pathogens into the hands of line workers.
‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.