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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Regulatory Bureaucracy Blamed for Failing Miner Safety

As Reg•Watch has reported, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has been absolutely abysmal in enforcing the MINER Act. Congress passed the MINER Act in the wake of the Sago and Darby mine tragedies and included some statutory deadlines. MSHA has failed to promulgate any meaningful standards related to the MINER Act.

Rep. George Miller (D-CA) has been displeased with MSHA and yesterday his committee, the House Education and Labor Committee, held an oversight hearing.

But the blame should not fall entirely to MSHA. J. Davitt McAteer, a former MSHA administrator and current VP of Wheeling Jesuit University (go Cardinals!), spoke of the muddied waters of our federal regulatory system:

In the best of circumstances, promulgating a new health or safety standard takes 2-3 years to complete. However, when the rule was substantial and/or controversial, it can take 4, 6, 8 or more years from start to finish. In the worst of cases, the procedural maneuvering completely obstructs the process…

The public policy considerations embodied in the Federal Administrative Procedure Act, Presidential Executive Order 12866, the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Information Quality Act of 2001, and their amendments and implementation documents as well as other requirements have suffocated the public health and precautionary values embodied in the statutes governing, among others, MSHA and OSHA. The harsh reality is that those interest groups, which have a stake in avoiding or postponing new workplace rules, have the financial resources and political clout to impede and/or bog down the current rulemaking system.

Posted by Matt Madia

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