Volume 12, Issue 2 - March 2011

WDMA Update

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.

Lobbying Successes
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."

Energy-Efficiency Issues
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 economic recovery.

Michael O’Brien serves as president of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association. He may be reached at mobrien@wdma.com. His opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine.


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