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Regulations Stopped by the Trump Administration Would Have Provided Crucial Public Protections

Nov. 28, 2017

Regulations Stopped by the Trump Administration Would Have Provided Crucial Public Protections

Blocked Measures Would Have Protected Coal Miners, Prevented Factory Explosions and Provided Equal Rights for Same-Gender Couples

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Trump administration’s first semi-annual report on regulations, known as the Unified Agenda, withdrew more rulemakings than any agenda on record, according to a report released today by Public Citizen. Public Citizen also published a dataset of all the withdrawn rulemakings in the Spring 2017 agenda, which was released in July. The Fall 2017 update to the little-publicized agenda, which likely will document many more paused and terminated rulemakings, is expected soon.

Public Citizen’s report, “Sacrificing Public Protections on the Altar of Deregulation,” shows that the Trump administration’s Spring 2017 Unified Agenda listed 457 rulemakings as withdrawn, including 26 that had legal requirements to meet due dates set by the U.S. Congress. The two agencies that withdrew the greatest number of rulemakings subject to statutory deadlines were the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI).

“Administration officials would have you believe that the rulemakings they terminated were of little importance to the public,” said Michael Tanglis, senior researcher for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and author of the report. “But these rulemakings would have reduced workplace accidents, prevented fires and explosions, and protected the rights of same-gender couples. These outcomes matter, especially to Americans who needed these protections.”

Withdrawn rulemakings rarely are listed in the Federal Register – leaving the public in the dark about their status until a new Unified Agenda is published. Many of the withdrawn rulemakings would have provided important protections for the public or the environment. These include:

  • A U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration rulemaking to address hazards that caused the 2010 Upper Big Branch explosion in West Virginia, which killed 29 coal miners;
  • A U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rulemaking to create a combustible dust standard that was initiated in response to a 2008 combustible dust fire explosion at the Imperial Sugar Company in Port Wentworth, Ga., which killed 14;
  • Multiple OSHA rulemakings that would have reduced exposure to dangerous chemicals and pollutants as well as other workplace hazards;
  • A U.S. Food and Drug Administration rulemaking to require prescription labeling information intended for patients to be presented in a “clear and concise” way so patients can “safely and effectively” take their medications;
  • An HHS rulemaking to ensure same-gender spouses are afforded equal rights in facilities that accept Medicare patients;
  • An HHS rulemaking to increase access to medications used to treat opioid addiction by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to administer them to more patients;
  • Nearly 40 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rulemakings to protect endangered species and critical habitats;
  • A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rulemaking to cut methane emissions; and
  • Three DOI rulemakings related to coal mine safety and cleanup.

“Administration officials have taken a victory lap to celebrate their efforts to halt regulations but have largely avoided discussing the details of the rulemakings they have stopped,” said Tanglis. “If combustible dust causes another factory to blow up, or if another coal mine explosion occurs, those celebrations will come back to haunt them.”