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OMB's ROLE IN OSHA DELETION OF WORKER EXPOSURE LIMIT CHALLENGED

Executive Summary

OMB's ROLE IN OSHA DELETION OF WORKER EXPOSURE LIMIT CHALLENGED by five democratic congressmen June 28 in a amici curiae (friends of the court) brief filed in the D.C. Circuit Court. The brief supports a Health Research Group petition, which requests that the court reverse a decision by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to omit a short-term exposure limit from a final standard for worker exposure to ethylene oxide. Noting that the Labor Dept. last year proposed an ethylene oxide exposure standard that included a short-term exposure limit, the congressmen's brief states that OSHA dropped the short-term limit at the recommendation of the Office of Management & Budget (OMB). The brief contends that OMB required OSHA "to apply statutorily impermissible cost/benefit criteria, rather than the health and safety criteria" for setting regulatory standards under the law. The brief was submitted by House Energy & Commerce Cmte. Chairman Dingell (D-Mich.), Judiciary Cmte. Chairman Rodino (D-NJ), Govt. Operations Cmte. Chairman Brooks (D-Texas), Education & Labor Cmte. Chairman Hawkins (D-Calif.), and Post Office & Civil Service Cmte. Chairman Ford (D-Mich.). The document was prepared by the D.C. law firm Arnold & Porter. OMB's influence on the OSHA ethylene oxide standard is a specific example of the office's "pervasive interference in the rulemaking process," the brief maintains. Other examples of OMB "interference" in federal govt. rulemaking cited by the congressmen include the application of OMB cost/benefit standards to the Infant Formula Act of 1980, which "has caused the delay in the promulgation of FDA regulations . . . thereby allowing a substantial amount of defective infant formula to enter the market." In addition, Dingell's Oversight Subcmte. has questioned the propriety of administration efforts to block FDA regulation of sulfites, and Brooks' cmte.'s Intergovernmental Relations Subcmte. has challenged OMB's role in blocking the agency's color-regulating decisions.

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