White House Regulatory Freeze Applies to All Recent, Pending Rules
A memorandum issued on Jan. 20 by the White House Office of the Press Secretary prohibits executive departments and federal agencies from sending regulations to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) until a department or agency head appointed or designated by President Trump reviews and approves the regulations. Regulations sent to OFR not yet published in the Federal Register must be withdrawn for review and approval. The memorandum also directs executive department and agency heads to “temporarily postpone” for 60 days effective dates of published regulations that have not yet taken effect. This regulatory freeze potentially affects several regulations recently issued by OSHA and MSHA.
The memorandum “seems straightforward,” said Mark Ames, AIHA’s director of Government Relations, “but there’s actually a lot of vague language in the memo that can be interpreted in multiple ways, making the specific impacts on worker health and safety hard to predict. While agencies are rushing to provide guidance on which rules are subject to the freeze, this period of regulatory disruption is likely to continue for some time, even after President Trump’s nominees have been installed, since the president has ambitious plans for cutting federal regulations, creating additional vast uncertainties.”
One regulation facing a potentially uncertain future is OSHA’s final rule amending its standards for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds. OSHA’s final rule on occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica may also be affected; the rule became effective on June 23, 2016, but start-up dates for specific provisions vary, with some dates still to come in 2017 and 2018.