August 26, 2008 The Pump Handle 4Comment

Hmph!   I just read on the OMB/OIRA website that they have completed their review of Labor Secretary Chao’s proposal to change the way that OSHA and MSHA assess workers’ risk of health hazards.  The OIRA website notice says their review was completed on August 25, and it was approved “consistent with change.” 

Well, I guess I didn’t really expect Secretary Chao or one of her political associates to call me personally to discuss the August 14 letter that 80 public health scientists sent to her.  In that letter, we urged Elaine Chao to withdraw her proposal from OMB review.  I wonder whether she read our letter, or the letter from Georges Benjamin, MD sent on behalf of the American Public Health Association.  I think not.

I was secretly hoping that the Labor Department would have received one of OIRA director Susan Dudley’s notorious “return letters.”   This is a letter that OMB sends back to agencies with a recommendation that the agency head “reconsider” the proposal.  For example:

“Such a return may occur if the quality of the agency’s analyses is inadequate, if the regulatory standards adopted are not justified by the analyses, if the rule is not consistent with the regulatory principles stated in EO 12866 or with the President’s policies and priorities, or if the rule is not compatible with other Executive Orders or statutes.  …the return letter explains why OIRA believes that the rulemaking would benefit from further consideration by the agency.”

HMPH!  They really didn’t read the scientists’ letter, did they?

It specifically explains why the proposal is “not compatible with statutues.”  It’s NOT compatible with two statutes: the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 AND the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1970.

It also explains why the proposal is “not justified by the analyses” and why the “quality of the agency’s analyses is inadequate.”

In the (bad) old days of OMB, a solid proposal rule and analyses submitted by OSHA would be dissected and scrutinize by desk officers, often taking more than 90 days for a review.

Now, in these (really bad) days of OMB under the G.W. Bush Administration, a piece of shoddy analysis with illogical regulatory text sails through OMB review, delivered straight back to Secretary’s Chao’s desk.  It probably has a pretty Republican ribbon affixed on the top.  

Seriously folks.  Things in this town are messed up.


For a chronology of events related to Secretary Chao’s secret rule, click here for the SKAPP website.

4 thoughts on “Next step for Chao’s Secret Rule

  1. To “Rich” above:
    Are you offering legal services? I’m not a lawyer so if you have ideas under what grounds a lawsuit could be based, I’d be interested in hearing them.

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