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Senate GOP Bill Would Give Industry ‘Veto Power’ Over New Rules, Critics Warn

By in Huffington Post on May 17, 2017

By Alexander C. Kaufman

Senate Republicans advanced a bill on Wednesday that environmentalists say would thwart rules to protect public health and wildlife by making it easier for companies to tie up regulations in expensive lawsuits.

Shrouded by the political chaos surrounding the White House, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the Regulatory Accountability Act that would impose dozens of new requirements on the government rule-making process. That will make it easier for businesses to trip up regulators with unnecessary steps, environmentalists say.

“This bill is for polluters and others who want to escape accountability ― not for the American people,” Scott Slesinger, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “It would make it virtually impossible to safeguard the public from dirty air, unsafe food, contaminated drinking water and other threats.”

The act proposes adding 53 requirements to the regulatory process, including a mandate that all rules with an economic impact exceeding $110 million go through a lengthy review. The bill would, for example, make it harder for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to update meat and poultry safety standards, the Food and Drug Administration to issue new rules on opioids and the Mine Safety and Health Association to upgrade protections for workers without clearing high hurdles set by deep-pocketed meat, pharmaceutical and mining companies.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the bill’s sponsor, said it would “provide certainty for businesses” and ensure regulations are cost effective.

“This bill would create a smarter regulatory process that promotes job creation, innovation, and economic growth, while also continuing to protect public health and safety and the environment,” Portman said […]    

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