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Trump’s Likely Picks to Head OIRA Would Unleash Corporate Predators and Polluters

Trump’s Likely Picks to Head OIRA Would Unleash Corporate Predators and Polluters

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: According to press reports, President Donald Trump has narrowed his list of potential nominees to direct the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to two candidates: Neomi Rao and Paul Noe. OIRA is a White House office housed inside the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that ostensibly serves as a clearinghouse for all economically significant federal regulations, but historically has been a major chokepoint in the regulatory process due to political interference, corporate lobbyist influence and unexplained delays.

There should be no question about what deconstructing the administrative state really means. Defanging regulatory agencies and gutting regulatory protections means corporations will have a free hand to pollute and pilfer, poison and profiteer.

In the Trump administration’s zeal to deconstruct the administrative state, no official is positioned to do more damage than the “regulatory czar,” the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

The Trump administration is reportedly considering two individuals to head OIRA, each of whom appears likely to wield a wrecking ball against the health, safety, environmental, consumer, worker rights, civil rights and financial security protections upon which Americans rely.

One of the leading candidates, Neomi Rao, comes from the Koch-funded George Mason University Law School. Rao’s writings evince a profound hostility to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and to independent regulatory agencies more generally.

The other, Paul Noe, is a top lobbyist for the American Forest & Paper Association, which has worked against a wide array of environmental standards and supported legislation that would make it harder to adopt new regulatory protections. Noe also did a stint at OIRA in the Bush II administration, where he rolled back regulatory protections.

If Trump’s idea is to betray his campaign promises to end the special access for corporations, the connected and cronies, he could hardly do better than these two candidates. On the other hand, if he believes his campaign promises that regulations should make life safer and better for American workers and consumers, then he should look for candidates with demonstrated records of supporting strong regulations that keep American workers safe and protect consumers.