Howard Shelanski Must Free Stalled Rules at White House Rulemaking Office

Coalition for Sensible Safeguards Calls on Newly Confirmed OIRA Administrator to Advance Public Protections

June 28, 2013

Contact: Ben Somberg, bsomberg@citizen.org (202) 588-7742
Brian Gumm, bgumm@foreffectivegov.org (202) 683-4812

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate on Thursday confirmed Howard Shelanski, a Federal Trade Commission official and law professor on leave from Georgetown University, to the position of administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the White House. Members of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards issued the following statements:

Katherine McFate, president and CEO of the Center for Effective Government and CSS co-chair: “Howard Shelanski should dedicate himself to advancing the public’s interest by taking a proactive approach to tackling health and safety threats. He should look at the Texas fertilizer plant explosion, the BP oil spill, the financial collapse and ask, ‘What kinds of rules do we need in place to prevent this from happening in the future?’”

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen and CSS co-chair: “Food safety, worker safety and environmental protections are stalled in White House review right now, so the test for the new OIRA administrator is whether he will change that. If he can uphold his pledge to make timely rule reviews a top priority, it would be great progress. That office has simply become strongly anti-regulatory, and Shelanski is going to have to shake up that culture if he’s to work for the public’s interest.”

Celia Viggo Wexler, senior Washington representative for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists: “During his confirmation hearing, Mr. Shelanski rightly recognized that scientific determinations are the job of agencies and not the White House. We hope that as OIRA director, his actions will live up to those words. OIRA has no business meddling in agency science, but that hasn’t stopped previous administrators from overstepping their role.”

Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health: “Shelanski needs to move forward critical worker safety rules currently stalled at his agency, including a long-delayed silica rule that would protect workers from exposure to dangerous levels of silica dust on the job.”

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The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is an alliance of consumer, labor, scientific, research, good government, faith, community, health, environmental, and public interest groups, as well as concerned individuals, joined in the belief that our country’s system of regulatory safeguards provides a stable framework that secures our quality of life and paves the way for a sound economy that benefits us all. For more information about the coalition, go to www.sensiblesafeguards.org.