This week's public interest attacks by the #CorporateCongress: Keystone, financial reform and safeguards.
1) Lawmakers will attempt to weaken dozens of health and safety laws – including the Clean Air Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act and the Food Safety Modernization Act – by requiring regulatory agencies to produce highly speculative estimates of all the indirect costs and benefits of proposed rules and do the same for any potential alternatives. What counts and does not count as an indirect cost or a potential alternative? The Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) (H.R. 185), which could be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives as soon as Tuesday, leaves that up to the industry’s imagination.
In addition, the RAA would hamstring agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bill would subject their work to review by the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which is known for delaying, diluting and blocking important new safeguards. Federal agencies usually take years to issue health and safety standards, but this bill would make that process even longer.
2) The Senate will start debate Monday on a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. If this bill succeeds, it will mean higher gasoline prices for U.S. motorists. The purpose of the Keystone pipeline is to take landlocked tar sands oil to the export-oriented refineries of the Gulf Coast, refine the low-grade oil and then ship the product to world markets.
The pipeline would transport the dirtiest oil in the world across America’s largest freshwater aquifer, risking a major oil spill and causing dangerous pollutants to be released into the air during the refining process. A 2013 Public Citizen report questioned the safety of Keystone XL’s Texas segment, documenting anomalies that could lead to spills or leaks.
KXL: Not in the National Interest
3) The House if bringing back a Wall Street reform rollback measure that failed last week.
On Wednesday, progressives beat back an attempt by the House GOP to delay a key element of the Volcker rule, which was part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The provision is designed to prevent mega-banks from gambling with taxpayer-insured deposits.
The House bill (H.R. 37) would permit banks to retain certain high-risk assets that are part of so-called collateralized loan obligations through 2019. Originally, the 2010 Volcker rule called for divestiture by 2012. In response to the legislation, Public Citizen sent out an emergency alert to activists, which led to a flood of calls to representatives’ offices on the day of the vote. A media statement called attention to the bad bill as well. The House leadership didn’t get the votes they needed to pass the measure. Chalk one up for Main Street.
But the House is now amending the rules to make it easier to pass H.R. 37 and will bring it up again this week. It likely will pass the House, but the fight will move to the U.S. Senate. Look to this space for updates.
Want to do something? Tell President Barack Obama to Veto That.