PNS Daily Newscast - April 22, 2019 

The vigilante accused of holding migrants at border to appear in court today. Also on our Monday rundown: The US Supreme Court takes up including citizenship questions on the next census this week. Plus, Earth Day finds oceans becoming plastic soup.

Daily Newscasts

Consumer Warning: Bill Could Unravel Protections

A bill is pending in Congress that would impact regulations that protect water, food, medicine and the environment. (
A bill is pending in Congress that would impact regulations that protect water, food, medicine and the environment. (
May 26, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine – The Regulatory Accountability Act (S-951) sounds innocuous enough, but consumer and public-health advocates say it's anything but.

The RAA claims to eliminate red tape for manufacturers, but environmental groups say the measure essentially would ban agencies from keeping pesticides and bacteria such as salmonella out of food, keeping lead out of water, and from preventing exposure to known carcinogens such as asbestos.

Anne Kelly, the senior program director of public policy for the sustainability nonprofit, Ceres and BICEP Network, says public health is at stake.

"This is an elaborate environmental-law infrastructure that has been put in place over the last 40-plus years, and to unravel those protections would really put our public health at great risk," she explains.

Critics say the bill creates so many new requirements that it would paralyze regulators working to establish even the most basic rules and standards.

A similar measure (HR 5) came up for a voice vote in the House earlier this year. The measure passed but First District Representative Chellie Pingree voiced her opposition.

Proponents say the Regulatory Accountability Act will ensure that health and environmental regulations are transparent and based on the best available science. Kelly says the RAA ignores long-held beliefs about public health, consumer and food safety.

"These are based on science, these are based on risk-assessment, and they really are grounded in the specialized expertise of the relevant agencies like the EPA and the FDA," she says. "And they need to be taken seriously. Not to suggest that improvements should not be made, but this is really wrong-headed."

According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the bill would replace an already industry-friendly rulemaking process with something even worse than one that currently only applies to the Federal Trade Commission; an agency that hasn't attempted to enact a major rule in decades.

Mary Kuhlman/Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME