Today, ALPA sent a letter of opposition regarding S. 3468 – The Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act of 2012 Members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. S. 3468 would require independent agencies to conduct cost benefit analyses at the direction of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). While supporters claim that this is a very common sense approach to the issuance of regulations, S. 3468 needlessly injects politics into the regulatory process and creates severe budget concerns for agencies suffering from under funding and under staffing.
Congress wisely created some federal agencies to operate quasi-independently of both the Executive and Legislative branches of government. This is not to say that these agencies are free to run amok as they see fit. This level of independence provides them with a certain level of insulation from political pressure. Instead of relying on political whims and ideology, these bipartisan agencies can solicit information and comments, hold public hearings and voice agreement and disagreement in a transparent manner.
There is a common misconception that independent agencies do not perform any cost benefit analysis. It is simply not true (pg. 122). Furthermore, cost benefit analyses can’t be the end all be all of determining whether or not to move forward with a rule making. There are simply too many shades of gray when applying a cost benefit analysis to rules that are meant to protect the public and workers. For example at ALPA, we need only look at our effort to classify lithium batteries as a hazmat material on cargo aircraft for shipping purposes. Such classification was determined to be “too expensive.” ALPA is also concerned that S. 3468 will politicize the independent rule making process at the SEC and CFTC and harm our efforts to rid the oil market of rampant speculation by Wall Street players.
S. 3468 is tentatively set to be marked up by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on November 15th. Supporters continue to try to ram this dangerous legislation through the Senate without holding a hearing to give stakeholders an opportunity to make their case before the Committee.