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Manufacturers Come Down Hard on EPA and Labor Department

When it comes to regulatory reform, manufacturers are taking aim at the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Labor.

Those businesses submitted 170 comments in response to a presidential memorandum that President Trump signed on January 24th. In the memorandum, the president authorized the US Department of Commerce to elicit the views of manufacturers and to ultimately prepare a report on how regulations could be streamlined or eliminated altogether.

“I strongly encourage utilization of the ‘Negotiated Rulemaking’ process to provide industry with the ability to provide guidance and recommendations in the rulemaking process,” Michael L. Wolf, Director, Regulatory and Industry Relations for Greenheck wrote. Greenheck manufacturers HVAC equipment.

The memorandum, titled Streamlining, Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing, directs federal agencies to support the expansion of manufacturing by expediting reviews of and approvals for applications to build or expand facilities. And within 60 days of receiving comments, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce will detail his findings to the president.

The memorandum is along the lines of the executive orders that the president has signed — the ones that have sought to rollback environmental regulations tied to efforts to reduce carbon and methane releases. To that end, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has started to implement a series of regulatory audits. That is something that President Trump now requires as part of a different executive order he signed.

Moreover, Pruitt has said that the administration will enforce “back to basics” policies that scrutinize the costs versus the benefits of environmental regulations. As such, the administration has let it be known that economic productivity and job expansion are paramount concerns — and that clean air and clean water do not need to suffer as a result of such pro-growth strategies.

“Back to basics means returning EPA to its core mission: protecting the environment by engaging with state, local, and tribal partners to create sensible regulations that enhance economic growth,” Pruitt said, as quoted in The Guardian.

The Washington Post surveyed all 170 comments and found that 48 of them dealt with the Clean Air Act while 31 of them pertained to the Clean Air Act’s New Source Reviews, and 29 of them applied to the Clean Water Act.

“New Source Review permits require significant time to obtain, and a manufacturers cannot ‘begin actual construction; until they are issued,’” Leslie Sue Ritts, Counsel for National Environmental Development Association’s Clean Air Project, commented.

“If a manufacturer plans to build a new plant or expand an existing plant, the company must factor a period of 14 months to 5 years to receive a pre-construction permit after the permit application is submitted and accepted by the State or Federal EPA permit authority,” she added.

To be sure, environmental organizations fear that the exercise could turn out to be an assault on effective rules to maintain clean air and clean water as well as those to ensure a safe workplace. They point out that the economy has greatly expanded, for example, since the Clean Air Act was first implemented in 1970.

The president’s proposed budget, however, aims to cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 31%. Meantime, carbon releases are 24% less than they were in 2005.

“President Trump (EPA Administrator Pruitt) are the only two people on Earth standing in the way of the U.S. taking the bold actions necessary to stave off the devastation climate change is already causing worldwide,” Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group, said.

The Commerce Department is expected to have its report prepared to deliver to President Trump at the end of May. If any regulation is to be altered or eliminated, it would require an act of Congress or legal steps that would determine current rules to be unlawful. Generally speaking, both Republican and Democratic administrations have sought to streamline regulations to prevent any duplicative efforts by various agencies.

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