houseIn a letter sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) last week, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) blasted the agency for failing to complete its review of OSHA’s proposed crystalline silica standard and other regulatory items within the legally mandated time frame.

Blumenthal, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights and Agency Action added his voice to the chorus of people and organizations who are angry over delays by the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

An Executive Order sets a 90 day deadline for completion of OIRA reviews.

“These are common sense proposals with real-life consequences.”

In a May 7 letter to OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Blumenthal pointed out that OIRA is currently in violation of that deadline on 84 of the 153 regulatory items that are pending.

A standard proposed by OSHA to limit workers’ exposure to crystalline silica exposure has been in limbo at OIRA for 829 days.

 “According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1.7 million workers are exposed to dangerous levels of silica each year, many go on to contract debilitating lung conditions,” wrote Blumenthal.

He also noted that a Department of Transportation rule – mandated by Congress – to expand visibility in and around cars to protect children from being backed over has languished at OIRA for 546 days.

 “This proposed rule would help save children that are killed or injured because drivers don’t see them while backing up. “

Another long-delayed rule: an FDA guidance limiting the amount of arsenic in apple juice (a 2012 study by Consumer Reports found that 10 percent of juice samples they tested had arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking water standards).

“These are common sense proposals with real-life consequences,” wrote Blumenthal. “Given the health and safety implications of these federal actions, the length of delay in OIRA’s review is unacceptable. “

He urged the agency to complete reviews immediately and return the actions to the promulgating agencies.

“Otherwise, I would like you to please explain in writing the reasons for the delay, and propose an alternate timeline for completion of OIRA’s review process.”