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Will U.S. Senate Make It Harder to Enact Regulations?

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Monday, May 22, 2017   

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- The U.S. Senate could vote any day on a controversial bill to make it harder to develop new federal regulations.

One version of the Regulatory Accountability Act has already passed the House and a key Senate committee and now heads to the Senate floor. The bill would require a cost-benefit analysis that prioritizes its effects on industry over benefits to the public.

Ybelka Saint Hilaire, with a Nevada local of the government employees union, said that would decisively tilt the playing field in favor of big business and away from everyday people.

"The bill would require agencies to adopt the least costly rule instead of the most protective rule that is now required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Mining Safety and Health Act,” Hilaire said. "So, it would make protecting workers and the public secondary to limiting cost."

The bill also would mandate reviews of a wide range of current rules that ensure clean air, water and wildlife habitat, as well as existing safety rules for food, medications and workplaces. Supporters of the bill say it will cut unnecessary red tape for business and lead to more jobs.

Anne Kelly is senior program director of public policy at the Ceres BICEP Network, a business coalition that promotes sustainability, clean energy and climate solutions, and includes such big name companies as Apple, Google and Nike. She warned the bill could delay new regulations by years, creating more uncertainty for business.

"You have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment?” Kelly said. "I really believe we have evolved out of that tired paradigm, and that most businesses now know that proper regulations allow us to have a healthy environment that then contributes to a healthy economy."

Kelly said she believes the result of pulling back environmental regulations will be a greater number of companies allowed to pollute with few consequences.


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