Worker safety advocates and environmentalists are worried that an executive order issued by the governor of Massachusetts will lead to more dangerous workplaces and higher levels of air and water pollution.
Stricter than the feds
In a directive to all state agencies, Governor Charlie Baker ordered all state agencies to conduct a yearlong review of nearly all state regulations, with a mandate that none should exceed federal requirements. Many of Massachusetts' regulations are more stringent than their federal counterparts.
Business industries, who’ve complained that state regulations are costly, burdensome and complex, are happy about the order.
Critics, however, say it will hamper Massachusetts' 2,200 regulators and threaten the state’s reputation for proactivity.
“The consensus is that this unfortunately has the potential to undermine our national leadership,” said George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts. “Massachusetts takes pride that it is a national leader in health care, education, biotech and life sciences, and the environment. Why should we be subservient to Washington, D.C.?”
Critics also say the order will allow well-funded lobbyists for regulated industries to have undue influence over revisions to regulations.
Running amok in alligator shoes
“It is a recipe for turning government over to the big powerful special interests,” said Janet Domenitz, executive director of MassPIRG, a consumer advocate group. “We don’t want powerful special interests in their alligator shoes running amok over this process.”
The order says an existing regulation could stay in place if “less restrictive and intrusive alternatives have been considered and found less desirable based on a sound evaluation of the alternatives.”
Baker campaigned in 2014 as a moderate, pro-environment Republican.