NGOs ask Senators to investigate chronic delays in OMB’s review of TSCA regulatory actions

Rachel Shaffer is a research assistant.  Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

Last Friday afternoon, we received the discouraging news that EPA has withdrawn two draft rules it had developed under its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) authority.  As discussed in our earlier blog post, these proposed rules had been kept in limbo by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), for 1,213 and 619 days, respectively – far longer than the 90-day limit for such reviews set by Executive Order 12866.

Unfortunately, these delays are anything but unique.  OIRA’s reviews of draft rules and other actions now routinely exceed by large margins their mandated deadlines.  Our examination of EPA’s TSCA regulatory agenda over the past several years reveals just how extensive OIRA’s “rulemaking purgatory” has become.  

Since 2009, a total of 33 TSCA-related notices or proposed or final regulatory actions have been submitted to OIRA:

  • Eighteen submissions were proposed or final rules subject to a 90-calendar-day deadline.  Reviews of only six of these rules were completed within this deadline; on average, they have been held at OIRA for over 300 days.
  • The other 15 were advance notices of proposed rulemakings or other notices subject to a 10-working-day deadline.  Of these notices, only one was completed within this deadline; on average, they were kept under review by OIRA for over 70 working days.

Today, EDF, Earthjustice, Union of Concerned Scientists, and League of Conservation Voters sent a letter documenting these delays and expressing our serious concerns to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights, and Agency Action.  Our letter emphasized that such delays both prevent the public from providing input in the rulemaking process and limit EPA’s already constrained ability to obtain and share basic safety information on chemicals under TSCA.

Our letter was sent in response to an August 1, 2013, hearing held by that subcommittee, titled Justice Delayed: The Human Cost of Regulatory Paralysis, which began a much-needed discussion of the real-world impact of OIRA’s protracted review of proposed regulations.  We urged a further investigation into the causes and consequences of this too-hidden obstruction of the long-established rulemaking process. 

You can read our letter here, and stay tuned for updates in the coming months.

 

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