CPR Archive for Celeste Monforton

Congress squeezes Obama's reg czar about lack of transparency

by Celeste Monforton | March 09, 2015

This blog is cross-posted from the Pump Handle. 

It’s a rare thing on Capitol Hill when a member of the Administration is on the hot seat from both sides of the aisle. But that’s what happened on Tuesday when President Obama’s regulatory czar, Howard Shelanski, JD, PhD, testified at a joint hearing of two subcommittees of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform.

The Republican Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Ranking Member Gerry Connolly (D-VA)and other subcommittee members, peppered him with questions about OIRA’s lack of transparency in numerous arenas. Their motivations were different, but they were equally tough in their questioning. Republicans don’t think OIRA is doing enough to reign in regulatory agencies, while Democrats want OIRA to complement, not impede, agencies’ work.

I could relate to Chairman Meadows when he pressed Shelanski about releasing documents related to OIRA’s review of an agency regulation. That’s a topic that is close to my heart as I’ve filed numerous FOIA requests—during both Democratic and Republican Administrations—to obtain such records.

Meadows read from Executive Order 12866 (EO) which directs OIRA’s activities.

OIRA shall make available to ...

States and localities are where it’s at, opportunities to win safer workplaces

by Celeste Monforton | June 26, 2014
Cross-posted from The Pump Handle. Luis Castaneda Gomez, 34 and Jesus Martinez Benitez, 32 were asphyxiated in June 2011 when they were doing repairs inside a manhole. Their employer, Triangle Grading and Paving, was hired by the City of Durham, NC to make water line repairs. The firm had a history of violating worker safety regulations. Worse yet, it was not the first time an employee of Triangle Grading was killed on-the-job. Durham, like most municipalities, did not have effective ...

Democratic Senators eager to screw African-American and Hispanic poultry workers

by Celeste Monforton | December 19, 2013
Many Senate Democrats try to paint themselves as defenders of working people. They rail against their colleagues who are “in the pockets of corporations and the rich.”  But what they say, and what they do are two different things. This time, seven Democratic Senators are ready to screw poultry workers to please the owners of the poultry companies. We’ve been writing for nearly two years on the USDA’s plan to “modernize poultry inspection” (e.g., here, here, here, here). It’s a plan that will give ...

USDA to poultry plant workers: no promise we’ll address line speed hazards

by Celeste Monforton | October 21, 2013
“Es ridículo,” was the reaction of a poultry plant worker when he heard of the USDA’s proposal to “modernize” poultry slaughter. The agency’s January 2012 proposal (77 Fed Reg 4408) would allow companies to increase assembly line speeds from about 90 to 175 birds per minute, and remove most USDA inspectors from the poultry processing line. The Obama Administration should have heard the loud and clear opposition from civil rights, food safety, public health and the workers’ safety communities to the USDA’s ...

Do you want overworked inspectors in charge of your meat’s safety?

by Celeste Monforton | August 13, 2013
More than 400 inspectors with the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) worked, on average, more than 120 hours each two-week pay period.    Those were the findings of the agency’s Inspector General in an report issued late last month.  Their investigation covered FY 2012, and included field work conducted from November 2012 through February 2013. FSIS inspectors are assigned to more than 6,000 meat, poultry and egg processing plants in the U.S.  They are responsible for ensuring that the product sold ...

Pushing back against anti-regulatory forces, safety and environmental protections long overdue

by Celeste Monforton | August 06, 2013
Finally!  After far too much hullabaloo about the cost of regulations, there was a U.S. Senate hearing today on why public health regulations are important, and how delays by Congress and the Administration have serious negative consequences for people’s lives.  Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called the hearing entitled “Justice Delayed: The Human Cost of Regulatory Paralysis,” the first one conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s newly created Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights and Agency Action.  The witnesses included a parent-turned advocate for ...

Legs of Two 17-Year-Olds Severed in Grain Auger, White House Sits on Young Worker Safety Rule

by Celeste Monforton | August 12, 2011
Cross-posted from The Pump Handle. Tyler Zander, 17 and Bryce Gannon, 17 were working together on Thursday, August 4 at the Zaloudek Grain Co. in Kremlin, Oklahoma. They were operating a large floor grain aguer when something went terribly wrong. Oklahoma's News9.com reports that Bryce Gannon's legs became trapped in the auger, Tyler Zander went to his friend's aid and his legs also were pulled into the heavy machinery. Emergency rescue personnel had to cut apart the 12-inch metal auger ...

White House Transparency Doesn't Apply to Industry Meetings on Worker Safety Rules

by Celeste Monforton | April 13, 2011
Cross-posted from The Pump Handle. President Obama received an award last week for his efforts to improve openness in federal agencies. Jon Stewart poked fun at it (see clip) and I actually thought it might have been an April Fool's joke because of what I'd learned earlier in the week. The President's own Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has hosted two meetings with industry representatives who are opposed to an OSHA regulation on crystalline silica, but OIRA fails ...

With Friends Like These..... White House Throws OSHA Under the Bus

by Celeste Monforton | February 08, 2011
Cross-posted from The Pump Handle. I was already tired of President Obama repeating the Republican's rhetoric about big, bad regulations, how they stifle job creation, put an unnecessary burden on businesses, and make our economy less competitive. He did so last month in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal and in his State of the Union address. But yesterday, the White House went too far. In advance of the President's speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the chief ...

MSHA Takes Bold Step to End Black Lung Disease, Proposes Tough New Regulation

by Celeste Monforton | October 14, 2010
Cross-posted from The Pump Handle. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and MSHA asst. secretary Joe Main are proposing new rules to protect U.S. coal mine workers from developing illnesses related to exposure to respirable coal mine dust. The most commonly known adverse health effect is black lung disease, but exposure is also associated with excess risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, progressive massive fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. The proposal, scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Oct 19,* ...

Obama's Reg Czar Feigns Transparency, Worker Safety Rules in Crosshairs

by Celeste Monforton | September 28, 2010
Cross-posted from The Pump Handle. Is anybody else getting tired of hearing Obama Administration officials say "sunlight is the best disinfectant?" It was uttered again on Thursday (9/23) when the President's regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, was speaking at an event hosted by the Small Business Administration. His speech was loaded with all the transparency catch terms: "disclosure," "openness," "sunshine," "open government," "accountability," blah, blah, blah. The rhetoric was annoying to read because I'd been wrestling that week with OIRA's lack ...

MSHA Issues Emergency Rule to Prevent Coal Dust Explosions

by Celeste Monforton | September 22, 2010
Cross posted from The Pump Handle. MSHA announced Tuesday that it will be issuing on September 23 an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to improve a practice to prevent coal dust explosions. The rule addresses "rock dusting"--the decades old practice of generously applying pulverized limestone dust throughout a coal mine to dilute the potential power of a coal dust explosion. As NIOSH's Man and Teacoach explain: "...the rock dust disperses, mixes with the coal dust and prevents flame propagation by acting ...

New Worker Safety Bill Introduced in House, Protects Whisleblowers, Targets Bad Actors

by Celeste Monforton | July 02, 2010
Cross-posted from The Pump Handle. Cong. George Miller (D-CA) is a man of tough talk and swift action. Today, along with 15 other House members, he introduced H.R. 5663 a bill to upgrade provisions of our nation's key federal workplace health and safety laws. Every year, tens of thousands of workers are killed or made ill because of on-the-job hazards, and this year the toll of death made headline news. The Deepwater Horizon disaster and the Upper Big Branch mine ...

Perplexed by OSHA's Latest Reg Agenda

by Celeste Monforton | May 05, 2010
Cross-posted from The Pump Handle. Beginning in December 2006, I’ve written five blog post commenting on the content of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) regulatory agenda for worker health and safety rulemakings.  Most of my posts [see links below] have criticized the Labor Secretary and senior OSHA and MSHA staff for failing to offer a bold vision for progressive worker protections.  Now that the Obama & Solis team have been on board for more than a year, I’m not willing to cut them any slack for being ...

MSHA's Band-Aid Approach Turns Deadly

by Celeste Monforton | April 12, 2010
Cross-posted from The Pump Handle. Last month, the US Dept of Labor (DOL) and MSHA were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act.  Their proclamations said: “…this law represents a watershed moment in the improvement of occupational health and safety in the United States. It was the precursor to the Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, which created MSHA, and it was the basis of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of ...

Also from Celeste Monforton

Celeste Monforton joined the Milken Institute School of Public Health in 2006. She is a regular contributor to the "Pump Handle," a blog known as "a water cooler for the public health crowd." She continues her work in occupational health and maintains her ties to The George Washington University by serving as a professorial lecturer.

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