A lot of safety-related government proposals are being delayed right now, some temporarily, some longer.
In the temporary category, we have seen a couple in the last week.
- On July 9th, the Coast Guard announced it is delaying the deadline for public comments on its proposal to require training for non-seafarers on MODUs and OSVs. The comment period was to close on July 14th, but the new deadline is September 8th. This one is worth paying close attention to because it could change the entry-level requirements for offshore oil and gas workers who are not traditional mariners. It also tries to clarify the different roles of personnel on MODUs and OSVs when it comes to safety and environmental programs. A number of groups requested the delay and the Coast Guard readily granted it. Given the importance of the subject matter, it would be a shame if industry did not now respond with concrete comments. The announcement can be found here.
- In the July 14 Federal Register, the EPA announces that it will extend the deadline for comments on its hydraulic fracturing chemicals and mixtures rulemaking from August 18 to September 18. The EPA wants comments on whether operators should be required to report chemicals used in fracking and how that should be reported. Where the Coast Guard extension comes because there were virtually no comments on a significant rulemaking, industry has the opposite problem on the fracking rulemaking. There are a lot of comments, but almost all of them are anti-fracking. here is one example from an anonymous commentator: “It goes without saying that all citizens should know what the greedy Oil/gas are using with frackig.” Ironically, the Administration has worked hard to not take a stand for or against fracking, so it may be hoping there are more comments that support the practice to balence things out a little. You can access the proposal here.
We have recently seen OSHA delay enforcement on crane and electircal safety regulations. On the longer term, OSHA also stepped way back from its Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (I2P2), putting it on hold for now.
There has been a trend by agencies to readily agree to extend comment periods on rulemakings in 2014. Why the delays? It is probably a healthy sign anytime government agrees to allow for more public comment on regulations. One can’t help but think that a lot of the reason for the trend is the timing of the next elections. With the split between the White House and Congress and Republicans itching for a fight, no one in the Administration really wants headlines about the cost of regulations on industry or “unfeeling bureaucrats” trying to snuff out the recovery with red tape.