Foxes, Henhouses and our Health
Posted with permission from Confined Space, a newsletter of workplace safety and labor issues
Earlier this week I reviewed a New York Times article on conflicts of interest among Trump political appointees that highlighted a new Labor Department Special Assistant, Geoffrey Burr. Burr is a former lobbyist for the Associated Builders and Contractors, and his federal disclosure form notes that he lobbied DOL against the silica standard and the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces regulation that would have required federal contractors to disclose federal labor law violations. Under Mr. Obama’s ethics order, Mr. Burr would probably not have been able to join the Labor Department.
The Department of Labor, and OSHA, are somewhat fortunate so far that there is still no Secretary of Labor. Secretary of Labor nominee Alex Acosta is expected to be confirmed the first week of May, and after that we will start to see more political appointments at OSHA, and probably more appointments of industry foxes “guarding” the workers’ henhouse.
The Environmental Protection Agency has not been so lucky and the questionable appointments are coming more quickly. Richard Dennison, Lead Senior Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund writes this week about the alarming appointment of Dr. Nancy Beck who has just been appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) at EPA. Beck is moving right over from head of Regulatory Science Policy at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the main trade association for the chemicals industry.
And this is not a good thing for the environment — or for workers:
It’s also not good for workers, as last year’s modernization of TSCA also gives EPA the authority to set exposure levels for workers. OSHA, under its current law, faces an impossible task of updating hundreds of current chemical exposure limits, and adding thousands of new chemicals that have come into industrial use over the last 45 years.
Dennison concludes by asking question that we seem to be hearing for most Trump appointees (and the President himself):
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