Thursday :: Jul 24, 2008

The Bush Administration's Rush To Poison You

by Turkana

With time running out, the Bush Administration's war on working Americans takes on a new urgency. The Washington Post reported, yesterday:

Political appointees at the Department of Labor are moving with unusual speed to push through in the final months of the Bush administration a rule making it tougher to regulate workers' on-the-job exposure to chemicals and toxins.

As always, it is the political appointees. Not the career professionals. Not the scientists. Because Republican political appointees don't care about being professional or scientific. And they clearly don't care about working Americans. As the New York Times reported, at the end of May:

The Bush administration has told federal agencies that they have until June 1 to propose any new regulations, a move intended to avoid the rush of rules issued by previous administrations on their way out the door.

The White House has also declared that it will generally not allow agencies to issue any final regulations after Nov. 1, nearly three months before President Bush relinquishes power.

While the White House called the deadlines “simply good government,” some legal specialists said the policy would ensure that rules the administration wanted to be part of Mr. Bush’s legacy would be less subject to being overturned by his successor. Moreover, they said, the deadlines could allow the administration to avoid thorny proposals that are likely to come up in the next few months, including environmental and safety rules that have been in the regulatory pipeline for years.

Many regulations do not take effect until 60 days after they have been issued, and a new president can try to postpone or revise them. After Mr. Bush took office in 2001, for example, he froze hundreds of pending regulations issued by the administration of Bill Clinton.

So, this new workplace rule fits the Administration's closing agenda. Force the rules through, now, so they can't be overturned later. As the Post article continues:

The agency did not disclose the proposal, as required, in public notices of regulatory plans that it filed in December and May. Instead, Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao's intention to push for the rule first surfaced on July 7, when the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted on its Web site that it was reviewing the proposal, identified only by its nine-word title.

The text of the proposed rule has not been made public, but according to sources briefed on the change and to an early draft obtained by The Washington Post, it would call for reexamining the methods used to measure risks posed by workplace exposure to toxins. The change would address long-standing complaints from businesses that the government overestimates the risk posed by job exposure to chemicals.

Because we all know that corporate America always cares first about the health of their workers, rather than about its financial bottom line.

The rule would also require the agency to take an extra step before setting new limits on chemicals in the workplace by allowing an additional round of challenges to agency risk assessments.

The department's speed in trying to make the regulatory change contrasts with its reluctance to alter workplace safety rules over the past 7 1/2 years. In that time, the department adopted only one major health rule for a chemical in the workplace, and it did so under a court order

In other words, this one is particularly important. Making sure that American workers are exposed to more toxins in the workplace. So important that it needs to be rushed through now, so that it cannot be rescinded later.

David Michaels, an epidemiologist and workplace safety professor at George Washington University's School of Public Health, said the rule would add another barrier to creating safety standards, in the name of improving them.

"This is a guarantee to keep any more worker safety regulation from ever coming out of OSHA," Michaels said. "This is being done in secrecy, to be sprung before President Bush leaves office, to cripple the next administration."

Expect more such rules changes. Time is short. Money is to be made. And the health and safety of the American people just doesn't matter.

Turkana :: 11:40 AM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!