Urging Congressional Oversight of Federal
Agencies and Actions
by Michael O’Brien
As the new Republican majority assumed control of the House
of Representatives this January, a key focus was on oversight of federal
agencies and new or proposed regulations that have hampered our economic
recovery. After several Republican committee chairmen issued calls for
feedback on regulations and agencies in need of oversight, President Obama
issued an executive order announcing an administrative review by the Office
of Management and Budget (OMB), another welcome step toward reducing the
overregulation of our nation’s employers and job creators.
The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) was one of a number
of trade associations that provided input to Oversight Chairman Darrell
Issa (R-Calif.) as he began identifying issues and regulations for review
before his committee. WDMA led a coalition effort to single out the Environmental
Protection Agency’s (EPA) lead rule for attention. Separately, WDMA wrote
a letter identifying the Department of Energy’s interference in the International
Code Council (ICC) code process and the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration’s (OSHA) proposed noise reduction requirements as additional
items in need of review. Shortly after WDMA contacted Chairman Issa, and
in recognition of the increasing scrutiny, OSHA announced that it was
withdrawing its proposed noise reduction requirements for further review.
"The National Association
of Manufacturers and other groups also have called on Rep. Darrell Issa
and his committee to review the aggressive EPA agenda, with particular
attention on EPA’s moves to regulate carbon emissions."
Legislation introduced in the last Congress called for the Department
of Energy (DOE) to review revisions to model energy conservation codes
and standards to evaluate the energy savings over previous codes. Moreover,
the proposed legislation specified percentage-based increases in energy
efficiency to be implemented by state and local governments with DOE oversight.
While the legislation passed the House, it was never considered by the
Senate. Yet, DOE has taken an active role in promoting these objectives,
unsanctioned by Congress, in its participation in the ICC’s model code
development process. During the recent development of the 2012 edition
of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), a model energy conservation
code for commercial and residential buildings adopted by nearly all states,
DOE reported that its proposed revisions to the code would improve energy
savings by 30.6 percent relative to the 2006 IECC. Despite repeated requests,
DOE did not explain how it calculated its savings estimate and leveraged
pending legislation heavily as the need for approval of its proposed revisions.
WDMA believes that DOE must make public its technical assumptions and
methodologies to ensure that all stakeholders have equal access to the
information and are able to have a full, open and informed dialogue. WDMA,
fellow stakeholders and consumers will be affected adversely if energy
efficiency requirements are adopted without confirmation that they are
based upon concrete, scientifically supported information. Without the
opportunity to review underlying assumptions, the industry faces great
uncertainty in planning to respond to new energy efficiency requirements.
The National Association of Manufacturers and other groups also have called
on Issa and his committee to review the aggressive EPA agenda, with particular
attention on EPA’s moves to regulate carbon emissions. Within days of
the swearing in of the 112th Congress, several bills were introduced to
block, delay or restrict funding from the EPA for this purpose. The Oversight
Committee and others, such as the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on
Energy and the Economy, vowed to take a close look at all recent EPA activity
to see where regulations are being advanced in a way that hampers our
Michael O’Brien serves as president of the Window
and Door Manufacturers Association. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of
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