This CSB photo shows the aftermatch of the dust explosion and fire on Feb. 20, 2003, at the CTA Acoustics manufacturing plant in Corbin, Ky. killing seven workers.

Miller Still Pushing for OSHA Combustible Dust Rule

He proposed an amendment Feb. 27 to the All Economic Regulations Are Transparent Act (H.R. 2804) that would have exempted the regulation from the act's requirements, but it was defeated.

U.S. Rep. George Miller has not given up his battle to see OSHA finalize new combustible dust regulations. Having already announced he is retiring from Congress at the end of this session, Miller, D-Calif., tried Feb. 27 to amend a Republican bill so it would not impede OSHA's action on comdust. In a vote along party lines, Miller's amendment was defeated as the U.S. House of Representatives voted 236-179 to pass the All Economic Regulations Are Transparent Act (H.R. 2804).

OSHA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking several years ago, and the rulemaking process continues. Democrats on the House Education and the Workforce Committee introduced bills several times after the 2008 explosions at an Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Ga., with the aim of requiring OSHA to enact a standard. Miller joined other Democrats on the committee to introduce these, but they did not become law.

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, chairman of the House Rules Committee, said the Alert Act and other measures passed by the House in the final week of February will stop the Obama administration’s abuse of power. "House Republicans are committed to holding the Obama administration accountable for circumventing Congress and the constitutional lawmaking process," Sessions said in a Feb. 28 statement posted on the committee's website. "The administration’s abuse of power and excessive regulation stifles job creation, weakens our economy, and threatens Americans' trust in our government. Currently, total regulatory burden costs Americans nearly $1.8 trillion per year. In 2013 alone, new federal regulations added $112 billion in indirect costs to the economy and increased the paperwork burden by 157.9 million hours. This massive burden of regulation is harming families and small businesses across our country. Yet, at the end of 2013, the Obama administration was considering the implementation of 4,000 new federal regulations."

Miller called the measures "misguided." He said the Alert act "will would impose layers of red tape and erect new obstacles to protecting American lives. Despite the clear need to move forward, this bill would give special interests new ways to block vital protections from combustible dust. The sad truth is that the underlying bill is nothing more than an effort to put the powerful above the lives and limbs of working families -- and their widows."

Miller offered another amendment, co-sponsored by Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., to exempt regulations that have been recommended by federal agencies' inspectors general from the Alert act. This amendment also was defeated.

"Inspectors general are the taxpayers' independent watchdogs. They perform an investigative role that is above politics, seeking to find out what's gone wrong and what should be done to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government," Miller said. "This bill's lengthy list of additional procedures would add years to the rulemaking process and significantly hamstring the federal government's ability to adopt regulations that protect taxpayers in a timely manner. My amendment would ensure that this bill does not compromise the ability of agencies to protect taxpayers from waste, fraud, and abuse."

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