Top GOP oversight official Rep. Darrell Issa asked 150 industry groups which of President Obama’s regulations they think are impeding economic growth.
The results are in: On Monday, Issa released 1,947 pages of almost unreadable letters from a slew of trade associations specifying complaints on government regulations that reach almost every part of American industry.
The letters are boring because they tackle highly technical subjects. For instance, the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association warned that an update to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) on the chemical formaldehyde could negatively impact economic growth.
But those letters are important because millions – sometimes billions – of dollars are at stake to businesses that drive the American economy.
In the case of the formaldehyde IRIS update, the issue is a study on the cancer risks of formaldehyde, a chemical used in $145 billion worth of products in the U.S. and Canada each year, according to an industry group defending the chemical.
From more than 100 different new regulations either proposed or finalized by the Obama administration, these are the five business groups hate the most, based on the number of separate organizations that wrote Issa to recommend he look into them:
1. EPA climate change regulations
Though cap and trade was defeated in Congress, the EPA is sprinting to finalize its own regulations that would mandate reduced carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gasses” scientists think are warming the planet.
Besides whether the EPA should be addressing global warming without a congressional mandate, the mechanism Obama plans to use is particularly burdensome. Environmentalists originally used the EPA-only approach as a threat to spur congressional action, thinking the doomsday scenario of that plan going forward would spur Republicans and industry groups to come to the negotiating table. That didn’t work, and now the regulations are going forward.
Thirty separate industry groups wrote Issa about the EPA’s “tailoring rule,” a legally questionable approach to limit the regulations to only major factories and industrial facilities. If the tailoring rule falls in court, six million new facilities would be subject to EPA regulations for the first time, including more than 3 million single-family homes. That would be regulatory Armageddon, even according to the EPA.
Twenty-three groups wrote about the regulations on the big industrial facilities to control for carbon dioxide emissions. Groups warn the regulations will be costly and unworkable.
2. OSHA’s “occupational noise” regulation
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed a new regulation in October that would have put strict new regulations on the volume of noise experienced by workers on the job.
But the outcry over the cost and feasibility of the new regulations was so great the agency abandoned the regulation on Jan. 19, promising to start over after consulting with key members of Congress including Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Independent.
Still, industry groups are wary, and 29 of them wrote Issa about where the Obama administration is heading on this issue. The groups concerned about the matter include a who’s who of manufacturing sectors such as the American Iron and Steel Institute and the National Tooling and Machining Association.
3. EPA’s new restrictions on ozone pollution
Like the climate change regulations, this regulation is another rule on air pollution under the Clean Air Act.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson backed off the agency’s plans to more strictly regulate ozone pollution shortly after the midterm election “shellacking,” asking for more research on the issue in December.
States are in charge of implementing the EPA-set standards under the Clean Air Act, and a stricter new limit could put many of them out of “attainment” with the standards. In the worst case scenario, states could be forced to ban new construction and could lose federal money for highway construction.
4. Implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill
Industry groups raised concerns about 20 separate provisions in the Dodd-Frank regulation that the Obama administration is currently implementing.
Like most large bills, Dodd-Frank grants federal agencies broad discretion on how to implement the law, meaning the battle over what it means is far from over.
One example of the provisions in Dodd-Frank is new rules governing debit card “interchange fees” charged by credit card companies to merchants for processing purchases made in stores with the cards. Another example is new disclosure rules for executive pay.
5. EPA’s new training requirements for renovation projects
Lead-based paint, used for decades in homes and on buildings, is still found in many older buildings. Since lead is hazardous, especially to children, renovation projects that disturb lead-based paint can lead to the danger of inhaling lead dust.
To address this potential health issue, the EPA has required extensive training for workers before they complete renovation projects on any buildings built before 1978.
Construction and other workers subject to the new rules as of last April are concerned about the extent of the training and fearful of the penalty for non-compliance: up to a $37,500 per day fine.
Twenty industry groups expressed their concern about the regulation to Issa.