The toll: An estimated 6,500 to 17,967 premature deaths, 9,867 non-fatal heart attacks, 3,947 cases of chronic bronchitis, and more than 2.3 million lost work and school days. That’s just a partial tally of the costs Americans will bear because of unjustified delays in two critical health and safety regulations. More broadly, the Administration’s Fall 2011 Regulatory Agenda—released late, at the end of January of 2012—shows how many of the most important rules currently in the regulatory pipeline are being similarly delayed, leaving people and the environment inadequately protected against a number of unreasonable risks, possibly for years to come.
Working from the latest regulatory agenda, a new CPR Issue Alert assesses the Obama Administration’s progress in completing 12 key regulatory actions identified in a CPR white paper issued last April. A group of CPR Member Scholars and CPR Policy Analysts warned in that paper that the Administration’s failure to bring a sense of urgency to the job of completing the rules had opened the door to the very real prospect that nine of the twelve might get caught up in the backwash of the 2012 presidential campaign, and indeed might never be completed by the current Administration.
That bleak prediction is coming true before our eyes. Progress on the great majority of these regulatory actions has been delayed further over the last 10 months, and it is now likely most of the rules will not go into effect during the current presidential term.
Specifically, the latest regulatory agenda confirms the following:
- All or part of 10 of these 12 regulatory actions have been delayed beyond the timelines stated in the last regulatory agenda issued in June of 2011. These include the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) air toxics rules for industrial and commercial boilers, updated ozone and particulate matter air pollution standards, and coal ash disposal rule; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (I2P2) rule, the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) strengthened Patterns of Violations enforcement rule; and more.
- Seven of the regulatory actions have no chance of going into effect until well after the November election.
- Three rules are in grave danger. If the Administration does not move these matters ahead immediately, they will not be completed during this term.
- The two remaining regulatory actions have only been partially completed. In September of 2011, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly completed the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard for heavy duty vehicles and trucks, which will significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In February of 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed its nationwide dredge-and-fill permit for strip mining operations, which will help reduce the harmful environmental impacts mountaintop removal mining.
The CPR Issue Alert examines each of the 12 regulatory actions in detail, providing an update on the progress that the Obama Administration has made to this point and assessing the prospects for timely and effective completion of work on these safeguards. It concludes by considering the possible impacts of the upcoming election on those regulatory actions that the current Administration fails to complete in time.