Issue Date: July 28, 2008
Labor Dept. Blasted Over 'Secret' Rule
A proposed regulation from the Department of Labor on changing risk assessment methodology for chemicals and worker safety should be withdrawn because the department has overtly violated rules on public disclosure, according to two powerful members of Congress. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education & Labor Committee, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, wrote to Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao on July 23 demanding that she withdraw the proposed regulation because it has been prepared in "near total secrecy" and was made "over the objections of career staff in the relevant health and safety agencies." In previous communications, Chao refused to provide Congress with a copy of the proposed regulation or provide information on whether the department intends to hold hearings on the proposal. The proposal, now under review by the White House Office of Management & Budget, still has not been made public, but according to the Washington Post, one change in the risk assessment assumptions on toxic chemicals would be to lower the number of years of presumed exposure, which is now 45 years.
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