Policy Update May 16, 2017

Position on S. 951, the Regulatory Accountability Act

NPCA submitted the following position to members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ahead of a business meeting on May 17, 2017.

NPCA urges members to oppose S. 951 – The Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA), recently introduced by Senators Portman and Heitkamp to “reform the process by which Federal agencies analyze and formulate new regulations and guidance documents.”

S. 951 is a modified version of the similarly titled Regulatory Accountability Act, H.R. 5, passed by the House on Jan. 11, 2017. Both bills are extremely problematic; they would significantly alter and increase bureaucratic procedures, resulting in the sacrifice of fair and efficient rulemaking processes. This could threaten critical clean air, water and other protections for our national parks.

The legislation would turn formal rulemaking processes into court-like hearings and would unnecessarily increase procedural hurdles that would delay the finalization and implementation of critical rules that would protect Americans and the public lands we love. These delay tactics could limit the ability of our federal agencies to implement needed public health and environmental safeguards, effectively paralyzing the regulatory process. If the RAA becomes law, commonsense clean air and water safeguards would undergo unnecessary and duplicative analyses before they could begin to protect our national parks and the American people. Critical protections like the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, and rules strengthening the Clean Water Act could have been tied up in years of bureaucratic processes before being able to protect national parks like Cuyahoga Valley National Park, if they had been subjected to the procedural hurdles of the RAA.

Federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Interior already conduct complex and thorough rulemaking processes engaging and reviewing all stakeholder comments, and evaluating a host of legal, scientific and technical issues. Under the RAA, these agencies would be stymied in their attempts to address pressing environmental or public health concerns.