Trump officials to unveil plan to cut
factory rules this week
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[June 12, 2017]
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 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
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
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 Co <MMM.N> 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 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
"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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President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One at Joint
Base Andrews outside Washington, U.S., before traveling to
Bedminister, New Jersey for the weekend, June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri
Trump has already taken steps to roll back some not fully completed
Obama-era environmental regulations such as restrictions on
coal-fired power plants and a clean water rule greatly restricting
runoff into small streams.
But the Commerce list may target some rules already on the books.
"We are at the outset of what we think will be a very intense
deregulatory agenda from the Trump team," said Amit Narang,
regulatory policy advocate at Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog
group. "We are concerned that they are looking to gut regulations
that benefit workers and benefit consumers."
Another OSHA rule that drew industry complaints is one that further
reduces worker exposure to beryllium, another potential carcinogen,
that became effective on May 20 after a decade-long rulemaking
Manufacturing groups including auto parts makers have also targeted
labor rules that make it easier for unions to organize workers,
expand the number of employees eligible for overtime and govern the
reporting of workplace injuries.
The range of industry complaints is vast. Mining giant
Freeport-McMoRan <FCX.N> argued that planned EPA financial
responsibility requirements for hard rock mining operations costing
billions of dollars were based on inadequate study and "will have
disastrous consequences for the mining industry."
Guitar maker Taylor Guitars said that permits needed from the Fish
and Wildlife Service for mother-of-pearl used to decorate
instruments was unnecessarily raising its costs.
"This declaration requirement does not seem to serve any
conservation or other purpose. The shell is not a species that is
protected under law," the company said.
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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