Search Results Archives: January 2012

January 31, 2012

Ellig: Playing Politics Leads to Regulatory Failure

From: The Hill

By Jerry Ellig
Special to Roll Call
Jan. 31, 2012, Midnight

Two years after its passage, the 2010 health care overhaul is still a topic of contention. Just this month, several state attorneys general filed an amicus brief supporting the law. This comes shortly after the Department of Justice filed merit briefs in the same case pending before the Supreme Court. Many more will be filed between now and oral arguments scheduled for March.

January 30, 2012

The Stakes in the Fracking Debate

From: RegBlog

Richard J. Pierce, Jr.

Use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to produce natural gas from shale formations – so-called fracking – has provoked debate among politicians all over the world. It has also raised scores of challenging legal issues that are being litigated in numerous agencies and courts. 

The public is divided on fracking. Some people view it as a practice that is so hazardous to public health and the environment that it should be banned. Others view it as a potential source of an economic boom so large that it should be encouraged. I am in the second group, but no matter what group you belong to it is undeniable how the potential beneficial effects of fracking have created incredibly high stakes to this energy policy debate.
President Obama’s State of the Union address provides a good starting point for seeing the impressive results shale gas fracking has achieved in the six years since this practice began. The President claimed credit for presiding over the largest reduction in oil imports in modern history and for achieving the lowest level of dependence on oil imports in sixteen years. He attributed that remarkable performance partly to increased oil production from tight sands in the Dakotas but primarily to the massive increase in gas production that has resulted from fracking.
U.S. Gas Well.jpg natural gas reserves have increased by over 65% over the period 2000-2009, and fracking reserves certainly have contributed to this growth. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects this trend to continue, as it now predicts that the U.S. will have enough gas to satisfy domestic demand for a century and that the U.S. will soon have a surplus sufficient to begin exporting gas to Asia. 
Fracking has already allowed the U.S. to replace 10% of the coal it has traditionally used to generate electricity with cleaner burning natural gas, and the EIA predicts that trend to continue for many years, with significant resulting environmental benefits. As a result of fracking, gas costs less than one-third of the price of oil in the U.S.
Fracking has also already produced large numbers of new jobs and major increases in prosperity in Pennsylvania. Ohio has the potential to add many thousands of jobs and to produce more gas than Kuwait in just a few more years as fracking spreads to new shale formations. In his State of the Union address, President Obama predicted that fracking would produce 600,000 new jobs nationwide.
The potential benefits of fracking are not limited to the U.S. EIA has identified 48 shale gas formations in 32 countries that have the potential to yield new gas supplies equivalent to those that have nearly doubled U.S. gas reserves in less than a decade. The International Energy Agency predicts that fracking will reduce the price of gas in Europe and Asia dramatically and that it will increase global supplies of cheap, relatively clean gas to such an extent that gas will replace coal as the dominant source of energy in the world by 2030.
The Baker Institute at Rice has published a series of reports that outline some of the geopolitical effects of fracking. They include elimination of Iran’s source of leverage over India and China, a large reduction in the importance of the Middle East as a source of energy, and elimination of Russia’s gas monopoly in Europe.
The potential beneficial effects of fracking are so large that I expect to remain a proponent of fracking, albeit with strict regulation to reduce the risks it poses to health and the environment.
Richard J. Pierce, Jr. is the Lyle T. Alverson Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School. 

January 27, 2012

Meaningful Use Stage 2 a high priority on HHS regulatory agenda

From: FierceEMR

By Marla Durben Hirsch – Contributing Editor

The next few months are going to be chock-full of new regulations affecting electronic health records systems. That’s the scoop from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ latest regulatory agenda, submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and published Jan. 20. According to the agenda, EHRs are one of the agency’s top priorities for the first half of 2012. HHS has accordingly sent to OMB proposed rules both on Stage 2 of Meaningful Use and on new standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria that EHRs would need to support Meaningful Use.

January 26, 2012

Silica Rule Sits At White House, Endangering Lives, Worker Safety Advocates Say

Editor’s Note:  The following article discusses OIRA consideration of proposed regulations that would have an extensive impact on the housing industry and the mining industry, essential components of the American economy.

From: Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — A long-awaited federal rule designed to protect workers in the construction and mining industries has been tied up in red tape at the White House, leading scientists to worry that the rule has been left in limbo due to political concerns.

January 20, 2012

The Food Safety Modernization Act – One Year Later

Editor’s Note: The following article quotes a former FDA official saying that “current hold up is at OMB” with respect food saftey regulations.  A more apt description of the the process would be to say that OIRA is reviewing the regulations pursuant to the President’s regulatory review authority and directives. 

From: Food Safety News

Progress, missed deadlines as FDA works to implement new law
by Helena Bottemiller | Jan 20, 2012

Just over a year ago, President Obama used 15 pens to sign the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law. The most sweeping update to U.S. food safety law in more than 70 years, FSMA is a huge undertaking for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and, not surprisingly, the agency is already behind on some major deadlines in its efforts to implement it.

January 18, 2012

FCC Mulls Revising Sports Blackout Rules

Editor’s Note:  A regulation impacting the NFL, including ticket prices and viewing options, deserves the same White House review as other economic regulations — yet another argument in favor of central review of independent agency regulations. 

From: RegBlog

by Sean Moloney

In response to a petition from industry and consumer groups, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced last week that it is considering revising its sports “blackout” rules that prevent some fans from watching their home teams from the comfort of their homes.  

Football on television.jpg
The NFL, for example, requires broadcasters that provide service within 75 miles of stadiums to blackout home games that are not declared a “sell out” within 72 hours of kickoff. According to a league official, approximately 8 percent of NFL games have been blacked out over the last ten years, which is down from a high of nearly 50% in the 1970s, as more teams regularly sell out home games.
If a game is blacked out, which means that it is not broadcast in the home team’s media market due to a contract between the sports league and the broadcaster, current FCC rules allow the league to prevent cable and satellite providers from offering live coverage of the game in the team’s market.
Near the end of this year’s football season, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to the FCC, urging the agency to allow public comment on a petition that had been previously submitted to the FCC by sports fans and open media groups, asking the agency to eliminate its blackout rules. 
In response to the FCC request for public comment, Sen. Brown stated he will “keep fighting” what he described as “an outdated rule which is unfair to the teams, the fans, and especially the taxpayers.”
During 2011, the NFL blackout rules primarily affected smaller market teams. Of the sixteen games that were blacked out, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had six of their eight home games blacked out, while the Cincinnati Bengals had five. 
The MLB, NBA, and NHL sports leagues also have blackout policies, although they protect television broadcast contracts by blacking out games in online subscription packages if the games are broadcast locally or nationally. For instance, a Philadelphia resident would not be able to watch a Philadelphia Phillies game online if it was broadcast locally or nationally, while a Phillies fan in Denver would be able to watch the game online as long as it was not broadcast nationally.
The FCC will accept public comments through February 13, 2012; reply comments are due February 28, 2012.

January 17, 2012

Letter by the US Chemical Safety Board to OIRA

Editor’s Note:  The letter to OIRA is attached below.

Statement of CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso on OSHA’s Proposal to Include an “Unclassified Hazards” Category in the Current Proposal to Adopt the UN’s Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

 January 11, 2012

Investigation Details:
Combustible Dust Hazard Investigation


Recently, I wrote the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management of Budget (OMB), to express my strong support for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposal to include an “unclassified hazards” category in its pending Final Rule. Currently OMB is reviewing the Final Rule for adoption of a Globally Harmonized System (GHS) which would align the existing hazard communication standard with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling. 

January 16, 2012

Obama Burdens the Banks

From: Weekly Standard

The costliest regulation you’ve never heard of.


There are a number of pricey regulations that have received attention of late: net neutrality, new ozone standards, countless regulations stemming from the passage of the Dodd-Frank bill. These rules typically garner a mention in the Wall Street Journal, a formal Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) review, and, in some cases, a lengthy Regulatory Impact Analysis.

Photo of money in a suitcase 


January 13, 2012

Google facing renewed FTC attention over Google+ search integration

Editor’s Note:  The article below illustrates the need for OIRA oversight over regulations of the FTC and other independent agencies.  Without such independent review, companies face increased risks that the development of new consumer products, and even entire new industries, may be stifled by regulators without consideration of precedent or national interest. It should be noted that Microsoft’s Bing already integrates their search function with data from Facebook, a social networking site over 150 times more popular than Google+ .

From: SlashGear 

January 11, 2012

FCC Proposal Would Increase Scrutiny of Third Party Studies

Editor’s Note:  The Data Quality Act requires that third party studies referenced/submitted by commentors must comply with DQA standards before an agency can use or rely on the material.

From: RegBlog