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Bush Regulators Do the Darnedest Things

We’ve told you before about the Bush administration’s attempts to roll-back safety regulations by nominating rotten eggs like Susan Dudley and Michael Baroody to head up regulatory agencies. But what happens when industry shills actually do take over these agencies?

Today’s New York Times has a must-read article about how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – the agency charged with ensuring workplace safety – has been failing to protect workers under this administration.

Since George W. Bush became president, OSHA has issued the fewest significant standards in its history, public health experts say. It has imposed only one major safety rule. The only significant health standard it issued was ordered by a federal court.

And who’s in charge at OSHA? Edwin J. Foulke, Jr.

Before coming to Washington last year, Mr. Foulke, a former Republican Party state chairman in South Carolina and top political fund-raiser, worked in Greenville, S.C., for a law firm that advises companies on how to avoid union organizing. Representing the United States Chamber of Commerce, he had testified before Congress several times to promote voluntary OSHA compliance programs. He also opposed the ergonomics standards.

And as a member in the 1990s of an independent agency that reviews OSHA citations, he led a successful effort to weaken the agency’s enforcement authority.

Foulke, Dudley, Baroody – they all have one thing in common: They were nominated to gut the protections that took years to win, and that ensure that Americans today enjoy a high quality of life. Read the whole article to find out how bad it really is.