Environmental and Energy Law Blog

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trump Administration Intends to Unveil Plan to Trim Regulations

The Trump administration intends to unveil this week a plan to trim regulations it believes constrain U.S. manufacturing growth, potentially affecting environmental permits, worker safety and labor rules, an administration official said. The U.S. Commerce Department's regulations "hit list" recommendations follow more than three months of study and consultation with industry on ways to streamline regulations and ease burdens on manufacturing firms. A Trump administration official with knowledge of the recommendations to be sent to the White House said the Environmental Protection Agency's complex permitting rules will be a key focus, echoing comments to Reuters by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last month. The 171 public comments submitted by companies and industry groups offer a strong hint to priorities for Commerce's streamlining efforts, with numerous industry groups and firms complaining that EPA air quality permit rules for new facilities are often redundant. The report will analyze the submissions and "will identify a lot of problems and lay out ways to take responsible actions," said the official, who declined to be identified by name.

 The process has looked at many regulations finalized under Trump's predecessor, President Barack Obama. A common demand from industry was that the Trump administration should reject a planned tightening of ozone rules under the U.S. Clean Air Act's National Ambient Air Quality Standards, with several groups arguing this would expose them to increased permitting hurdles for new facilities, raising costs. 3M Company said other permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act contained "overlapping rules, redundant requirements, conflicts between rules and undue complexity." The National Association of Manufacturers said the EPA's review requirements for new sources of emissions such as factories can add $100,000 US in costs for modeling air quality to a new facility and delay factory expansions by 18 months. It added that EPA should find ways to ease burdens for smaller projects and smaller firms.

 Also drawing complaints from construction groups and iron foundries is an incoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule reducing by 80 percent the amount of crystalline silica dust that can be inhaled. The dust, common on construction sites, can cause lung cancer, according to OSHA, but industry groups say reducing it to those levels will be prohibitively expensive. "To meet these much lower levels, new engineering controls and other measures will become necessary within the roofing industry," said the National Roofing Contractors Association.

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