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Oct. 1, 2018 by James Goodwin

Executive Order 12866 Is Basically Dead, and the Trump Administration Basically Killed It

Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the issuance of Executive Order 12866, but it was hardly a happy occasion. For all intents and purposes, though, the order, which governs the process by which federal agencies develop regulations under the supervision of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), is dead. Despite all the glowing praise over the years and all the exaltations of its supposed durability, its health had been in decline for several years. It was just a matter of time before something like the Trump administration came along and put the final nail in its coffin. 

The precise date of Executive Order 12866's demise was January 30, 2017. On that day, recently inaugurated President Donald Trump issued what was in effect its death warrant, Executive Order 13771

According to its defenders, Executive Order 12866 was all about promoting better regulation, and it was endowed with several features ostensibly aimed at advancing that goal. Most significant among these were the provisions calling for centralized review at OIRA and for measuring regulations against the yardstick of "cost-benefit analysis" – features that were inherited from its forebear, Executive Order 12291

Metaphorically speaking, cost-benefit analysis and OIRA's centralized review were …

Sept. 6, 2018 by James Goodwin
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Today, 18 CPR Member Scholars and staff sent a letter to Sen. Elizabeth Warren expressing their support for her recently introduced bill, the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, in particular its provisions to reform the regulatory system so that it works for all Americans. These provisions are just one component of the bill’s comprehensive effort aimed at restoring the principles of government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” to our policymaking institutions by ridding them of excessive corporate influence and by eliminating unnecessary barriers that defeat meaningful public participation in our governing processes.

As CPR has documented for more than 15 years, our regulatory system has become grossly unbalanced, with its procedures and outcomes increasingly tilted to favor the protection of corporate profits at the expense of public health, safety, financial security, and environmental integrity. The Regulatory Reform Title of Warren’s …

May 10, 2018 by James Goodwin
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Yesterday, six senators, led by Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, criticized Trump administration "regulatory czar" Neomi Rao and her office for what appears to have been a slapdash review of a highly controversial Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) draft policy designed to stifle the agency's progress on advancing environmental and public health protections. Rao is the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a small but powerful bureau located within the Executive Office of the President. For nearly four decades, OIRA has enjoyed broad and largely unchecked authority to interfere in pending rulemakings and to secretly quash or water down those measures that might be politically inconvenient for the president. 

In a letter to Administrator Rao, the senators identified several irregularities with OIRA's review of EPA's proposed rule on the use of science to inform regulatory policy. Taken together, these irregularities suggest …

March 30, 2011 by Sidney Shapiro
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Last week, the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) approved a survey to be conducted for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as part of the agency's efforts to develop an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) standard. Surveys, like this one, have to be approved by OIRA according to the Paperwork Reduction Act, and the lengthy approval may stall development of the I2P2 standard for four or more months for no apparently good reason. OIRA made only minor changes to the draft documents.

The I2P2 standard is OSHA’s signature regulatory initiative, and it comes in the nick of time. With its small and dwindling staff, a result of Congress putting it on a starvation diet of resources, OSHA has found it difficult to update its safety and health standards to protect workers, or to adopt new ones to address hazards …

Dec. 11, 2009 by Rena Steinzor
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Dear Cass:

As you know, we picked a spat with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) last week over Randy Lutter’s supposedly temporary detail appointment to your office. It’s not the first time we’ve criticized the workings of OIRA, and almost certainly won’t be the last. 

I’ve spoken to a number of people in the media and elsewhere who have expressed surprise that progressive organizations like CPR are such relentless critics of a progressive Administration. I’m sure Administration officials feel this frustration as well. That dynamic is at work in OIRA’s case because you have a reputation as a progressive thinker on many issues.

I won’t try to speak for all progressives, but I can assure you that very few of us criticize the Administration lightly. Nor do we do it with any sense of pleasure. The …

Dec. 10, 2009 by Ben Somberg
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The below item is written by Celeste Monforton and cross-posted from The Pump Handle.

The first regulatory agenda under OIRA chief Cass Sunstein was published Monday in the Federal Register (link to its 237 pages.)  The document includes a narrative of Labor Secretary Solis’ vision for worker health and safety, mentioning these specific hazards: crystalline silica, beryllium, coal dust, airborne infectious agents, diacetyl, cranes and dams for mine waste.   The document purports to “demonstrate a renewed commitment to worker health,” yet the meat of the agenda tells a different story for particular long-recognized occupational health hazards.

Take, for example, MSHA’s entry on respirable coal mine dust, a pervasive hazard associated with reduced lung function, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, progressive massive fibrosis, and more.  Despite an announcement last week by Labor Secretary Solis and MSHA Asst. Secretary Joe Main saying they want to “end new cases of black …

Dec. 3, 2009 by Rena Steinzor
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As reporters dug deeper on our post yesterday about the return of Randy Lutter, chief economist at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the George W. Bush Administration, to “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein’s office, OMB spokesman Tom Gavin worked to downplay the significance of Lutter’s reappearance. Gavin confirmed that Lutter was in fact ensconced in OIRA, as reported by Inside EPA this morning, but said he was merely “on detail” from the FDA as a career civil servant who would report up the chain of command to Sunstein. The implication, of course, is that Lutter would have little influence on policy.

How heartwarming that argument must have been for civil servants at OIRA and elsewhere. As my colleague Sid Shapiro and I argue in a forthcoming book (The People's Agents and the Battle to Protect the American Public, arriving in spring), civil servants are …

Dec. 2, 2009 by Rena Steinzor
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For a number of days now, we’ve been hearing rumors that Cass Sunstein, President Obama’s “regulatory czar,” was on the verge of hiring conservative economist Randall Lutter to join him at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Few personnel developments could be more discouraging to those hopeful that the Obama Administration will fulfill its many commitments to revitalize the agencies responsible for protecting public health, worker safety, and natural resources.

The best thing that can be said about the prospect of hiring Randall Lutter, a Cornell-educated economist who cut his teeth at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), is that he is a straightforward traditionalist. No “soft” or “humane” cost-benefit analysis for him, he likes his de-regulatory policy nice and raw. Lutter was the senior economist at the benighted Food and Drug Administration during the George W. Bush Administration, and now he brings his …

Nov. 25, 2009 by James Goodwin
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Perhaps caught up in the spirit of the holiday shopping season, a large number of industry bargain hunters have been busy seeking great deals on regulatory relief at the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in recent weeks. To be precise, the bureau hosted no fewer than 11 meetings with corporate interests regarding seven different regulatory issues between November 4 and November 16.

The meetings covered a range of topics. One meeting saw representatives of Shell Oil Company complaining about EPA’s proposed rule on fuel and fuel additives under the renewable fuel standards program mandated by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. In a second meeting, representatives of the beef and poultry industries met with OIRA officials to attack a proposed Department of Agriculture rule regarding nutritional labels for their products. Other meetings concerned NHTSA’s updated CAFÉ standards; EPA’s rule …

Nov. 23, 2009 by Ben Somberg
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The Obama Administration is expected to issue revisions to Executive Order 12,866, which specifies how the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) supervises federal regulatory agencies as they develop regulations to protect health, safety, the environment, and more (see the full comments on the matter submitted by CPR's board members in March).

CPR President Rena Steinzor and Board Member Rob Glicksman have issued a backgrounder on the coming Executive Order -- explaining the context and setting out six specific criteria on which to judge the Order. They are:

  1. Does the new EO continue to require agencies to justify proposed rules by quantifying “benefits” in dollar terms only – thus inviting agencies to ignore benefits that defy such monetization?
  2. Does the new EO continue to apply a “discount rate” to benefits of regulatory protections that won’t be realized for several years to come? And if it …

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