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E-M:/ More on Sen. Levin's So-called "Relaxation err,....Regulatory Reform"



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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 17:54:32 -0500
From: Reece Rushing  <rushingr@ombwatch.org>
Subject: CSS Alert -- Letters & Press Conference 
To: "Citizens for Sensible Safeguards List" <css@lyris.ombwatch.org>
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	      Citizens for Sensible Safeguards
****************************************************************

		LETTERS & PRESS CONFERENCE

URGENT REMINDER: We are still collecting sign-ons for letters 
opposing the Thompson/Levin regulatory "reform" bill (S. 746) 
and regulatory accounting legislation (S. 59) leading up to 
Thursday's markup in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

To sign on to the letters, included below, email Reece Rushing 
at <rushingr@ombwatch.org> or call at 202-234-8494.

The letters will be used as part of a CSS press conference 
prior to the markup at 9 a.m. on Thursday in the Senate swamp 
(announcement below). It is important that we have a good 
turnout, so if you are in Washington, please try to make it.


I. MEDIA ADVISORY

	Broad Coalition Denounces S. 746, 
    the "Regulatory Improvement Act of 1999" 

Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Mark-up May 20

WHAT: Press conference to explain the unintended and harmful 
consequences of S. 746, the "Regulatory Improvement Act of 
1999," for food safety, nursing home patient safety, disability
rights, patients' rights, worker health and safety, youth 
smoking prevention, and environmental protection prior to 
mark-up of the bill by the Senate Governmental Affairs 
Committee [set for 10 a.m. May 20th, Room 342 Dirksen].

WHEN:	9 a.m., Thursday, May 20
WHERE:	Senate swamp
WHO:	Citizens for Sensible Safeguards, a broad coalition of 
groups opposed to boilerplate changes in the regulatory process
that would harm environmental, public health and safety, and 
disability rights.  Speakers will include:

Richard Dimock, S.T.O.P. - Safe Tables Our Priority
Michelle Bloch, National Medical Women's Association
Barbara Somson, United Auto Workers
David Hawkins, NRDC
Pat Kenworthy, National Environmental Trust
Nathan Daschle, AFSCME
Grant Cope, U.S. PIRG
Paul Billings, American Lung Association
Joan Claybrook, Public Citizen
Gary Bass, OMB Watch


II. LETTER ON THOMPSON/LEVIN REGULATORY "REFORM"

Dear Senator:

As a coalition of more than 300 organizations dedicated to 
protecting and promoting the interests of consumers, workers, 
individuals with disabilities, public health, civil rights and 
the environment, we are writing to express our continued 
opposition to S. 746, the deceptively-named "Regulatory 
Improvement Act," which will be the subject of a markup in the 
Governmental Affairs Committee on May 20.  

If enacted, this legislation would seriously weaken the ability
of federal agencies, such as EPA, OSHA and the USDA, to issue 
public safeguards to protect our families and our communities. 
Specifically, S. 746 would:

*	Delay urgently needed public protections by tying 
agencies up in complex or redundant procedures for adopting new
standards;

*	 Create significant new opportunities for corporations 
that oppose public protections to challenge them in court;

*	 Establish a secret "peer review" process that could be
used to give industry scientists special status to delay and 
weaken strong safeguards;

*	 Prioritize reducing costs to regulated industries over
maximizing protections for the public; and

*	 Require already overburdened federal agencies to spend
their limited resources on new paperwork and more red tape.

Instead of improving the regulatory process, S. 746 would 
damage it.  Instead of speeding up the time it takes to issue 
strong public safeguards -- it often takes more than 10 years 
for EPA and OSHA to issue a major rule -- this bill would cause
further delay.  Instead of giving health, safety, environmental
and civil rights agencies more resources to do a better job, S.
746 would drain time and money from fulfilling their core 
missions.

For these reasons, and others, we urge you to oppose S. 746.  
If you have any questions or would like to set up a meeting 
with coalition members, please contact Reece Rushing at (202) 
234-8494.

Sincerely,


III. LETTER ON REGULATORY ACCOUNTING

Dear Senator:

As a coalition of more than 300 organizations dedicated to 
protecting and promoting the interests of consumers, workers, 
individuals with disabilities, public health, civil rights and 
the environment, we are writing to express our strong 
opposition to "The Regulatory Right-to-Know Act" (S. 59), which
will be the subject of a markup in the Governmental Affairs 
Committee on May 20.  S. 59 would require OMB to conduct an 
undoable analytical report on the entire federal regulatory 
system that we believe would only drain scarce agency resources
and create confusion over important health, safety, and 
environmental protections.

Congress has required OMB to conduct a cumulative cost-benefit 
analysis of agency rules - referred to as regulatory 
accounting -- through appropriations riders over the last three
years, and in its two completed reports, OMB has made a special
point to underscore the inherent uncertainty of such an 
endeavor.  "... we still believe that the limitations of these 
estimates for use in making recommendations about reforming or 
eliminating regulatory programs are severe," OMB stated in its 
second report, released in February.  "Aggregate estimates of 
the costs and benefits offer little guidance on how to improve 
the efficiency, effectiveness, or soundness of the existing 
body of regulations."

Yet despite these warnings, S. 59 seeks to dramatically expand 
analytical requirements contained in the previous 
appropriations riders and has removed language requiring 
analysis only "to the extent feasible."  Specifically, the 
legislation calls for OMB to estimate the annual costs and 
benefits of rules and paperwork (a) in the aggregate, (b) by 
agency, agency program, and program component, and (c) by major
rule.  In addition, OMB would have to assess the direct and 
indirect impacts of federal rules and paperwork on state, local
and tribal governments, small business, wages, economic growth,
and distributional effects.

One glaring problem here is that much of the information called
for is not currently generated during agency rulemakings.  When
the first appropriations rider was passed, a colloquy between 
Sen. Stevens and Sen. Levin made clear that the intent was not 
to generate new data or studies, but rather to pull together 
existing information.  That would no longer be the case under 
S. 59.  For instance, agencies are not currently required to 
conduct cost-benefit analyses for paperwork under the Paperwork
Reduction Act; rather, the agency is to assess "practical 
utility" and burdens imposed.  Testifying against the 
legislation in a recent hearing, OMB explained, "To satisfy 
[the legislation], agencies may have to be called upon to 
compile detailed data that they do not now have, and undertake 
analyses that they do not now conduct, using scarce staff and 
contract resources, regardless of any practical analytic need 
as part of the rulemaking process."

But even if resources were not a problem, there would always be
the problem of reliability.  In order to meet the requirements 
of the regulatory accounting report, OMB has, not surprisingly,
found it necessary to put cumulative costs and benefits in 
terms of dollars and cents.  And indeed, S. 59 puts a premium 
on monetization, asking OMB to show "net benefits." 

However, agencies often evaluate benefits using qualitative 
factors, such as the reduction in health or safety risks to 
children, while costs are more easily stated in monetary terms.
Such an analytical discrepancy is only accentuated when you 
attempt to add up all federal regulation at once in a monetized
study, producing numbers that are greatly misleading. 

When seemingly qualitative factors are converted to monetized 
figures -- as OMB has begun to do to fulfill its regulatory 
accounting obligations -- value judgements become hidden behind
a mask of technical expertise.  For instance, OMB's most recent
report incorporated the estimated benefits of reducing lead in 
gasoline, including the prevention of IQ loss in children.  
Although it's hard to imagine a parent who would regard their 
child's drop in IQ as adequately captured by an estimated loss 
of future earning capacity, this is actually one of the many 
value judgements buried in OMB's numbers.

Other problems with reliability exist as well, many of which 
are elaborated on in OMB's two reports.  Perhaps most 
significant, a study of this kind must rely on agency 
Regulatory Impact Analyses (RIAs) that are done before rules 
are actually on the books -- even though it is well documented 
that regulatory costs decrease over time as a result of 
technological advances, "learning by doing," and other factors.
(EPA, for example, estimated in 1990 that acid rain controls 
would cost electrical utilities about $750 per ton of sulfur 
dioxide emissions; yet the actual cost today is less than $100 
per ton, billions of dollars less than what was initially 
anticipated.)

Adding to the problem that "net benefits" are likely to be 
understated is the whole series of new subanalyses (previously 
listed) mandated by S. 59, all aimed at elevating cost 
considerations.  Notably, the bill calls for no such 
specificity in evaluating benefits, although there are 
certainly subcategories here worth considering -- including 
effects on vulnerable populations, such as children, the 
elderly and the disabled.

Moreover, S. 59 requires OMB to subject its findings to peer 
review (on top of a public notice and comment period) by "a 
nationally recognized public policy research organization with 
expertise in regulatory analysis and regulatory accounting."  
There are only a handful of groups who would qualify under this
language, and virtually all are more concerned with the cost 
side of the regulatory equation.  Given that the bill instructs
that OMB "shall use the peer review comments" in preparing its 
report, this could allow a single, privileged organization to 
greatly bias results.

In sum, by allowing crucial value judgments to be masked by 
monetized figures, we believe a report of this kind implies a 
sort of detached objectivity that simply doesn't exist, and in 
doing so creates less transparency, not more, as proponents 
suggest.  Moreover, the slanted analysis required by S. 59 
appears to be intended as a political weapon to undermine 
critical health, safety, and environmental standards.  
Certainly such a regulatory accounting has no real utility for 
public policy, as OMB has pointed out.  And yet, as constructed
by this legislation, it could prove extremely burdensome for 
already cash-strapped federal agencies.

For these reasons, we strongly urge you to oppose S. 59, "The 
Regulatory Right-to-Know Act."  If you have any questions on 
this bill or would like to meet with coalition members, please 
contact Reece Rushing at 202-234-8494.

Sincerely, 





------------------------------
Reece Rushing
CSS Coordinator, OMB Watch 
Phone: 202-234-8494
Fax: 202-234-5150
E-mail: rushingr@ombwatch.org
Date: 05/18/99
Time: 17:54:32
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Alex J. Sagady & Associates        Email:  ajs@sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Technical Review, Public Policy and
Communications on Air, Water and Waste Issues
and Community Environmental Protection

PO Box 39  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039  
(517) 332-6971 (voice); (517) 332-8987 (fax)
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