Regulatory experts across the country are angling to change the way federal regulations are written and approved. Since President Barack Obama issued a memo Jan. 30 instructing his administration to rethink the executive order that governs the federal regulatory process, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been accepting public comments on ideas for reform and meeting with stakeholders.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Feb. 20 that a food labeling rule finalized in the last days of the Bush administration will go into effect as scheduled. The rule has been under review at USDA in accordance with a Jan. 20 memo from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, which placed a moratorium on all final rules not in effect at the time President Barack Obama took office. However, Vilsack is asking food producers to follow additional voluntary country-of-origin labeling practices that could close loopholes left by the Bush rule.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), led by new administrator Lisa Jackson, is taking its first steps toward tackling global climate change. Jackson has announced her intent to review several Bush-era policies that limited the agency's ability to curb greenhouse gas emissions through regulation.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) recently reintroduced the Toxic Right-to-Know Protection Act (H.R. 776), which would restore the thresholds for reporting of toxic pollution under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program. A 2006 rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raised the thresholds significantly. An identical version of the bill failed to move out of committee in 2008.
Effective Feb. 10, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will begin enforcing new standards for children's products containing lead and phthalates. The standards take effect just days after a federal court voided a Bush administration effort to legalize the sale of products not meeting the standards if the products had been manufactured before Feb. 10. CPSC is enforcing the regulations in response to a 2008 law that gives the agency new powers and responsibilities to protect the public from potentially dangerous consumer products.
President Barack Obama took two steps toward reforming the way federal agencies develop public protections. On Jan. 30, the president issued a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies asking for recommendations to help develop a new regulatory executive order. The same day, he issued an executive order overturning two Bush-era executive orders that changed the way regulations were developed.
Congress and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have begun to further explore the dangers posed by bisphenol A (BPA) and whether to regulate its use, especially in food and beverage containers. BPA is an industrial chemical used to make hard plastic containers, such as baby bottles, and is part of the lining of food cans, where it is used to prevent metal from leaching into foods. Congress recently held a hearing and is considering legislation to limit the use of BPA. The FDA is assessing the toxicity of the chemical to help determine the risk to consumers.