What others say: Congress should leave payroll, emissions regulations

  • Thursday, May 4, 2017 9:27pm
  • Opinion

There’s only about a week to go before time runs out on fast-track procedures that congressional Republicans have been using to repeal regulations finalized in the last months of the Obama administration. But still more damage could be in store.

So far, President Trump has signed 13 repeal measures passed by Congress, harming worker safety, environmental protection and consumer privacy. To put that number into perspective, before now, Congress had revoked only one rule using the fast-track process — in 2001.

Now the fates of two important protections remain threatened as the Senate decides whether to follow the lead of the House and vote to repeal them.

One of them allows states to establish payroll-deduction retirement accounts for private-sector workers who have no retirement coverage at work.

Another makes energy companies limit harmful emissions of methane, the main component of natural gas.

The retirement regulation, which allows states to provide millions of employees with a convenient, low-cost way to save for retirement, is also consistent with Republicans’ traditional support for states’ rights. So, repealing the rule would violate both the interest of the people and Republicans’ own professed ideology — in order to curry favor with big financial firms that fear competition.

The vote to repeal the retirement rule, which could come as soon as Wednesday, will be close, with Vice President Mike Pence possibly having to cast a tiebreaking vote — a dubious victory.

The rule to curb methane is opposed by powerful oil and gas interests, and, not surprisingly, by many in Congress who receive campaign contributions from those interests. But its value is indisputable. Capturing methane keeps the air cleaner and reduces emissions of a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. It would have the support of most Americans, who — regardless of party affiliation — tell pollsters that measures to restrict emissions are good solutions to climate and pollution problems. And it could be a benefit for industry, since the captured methane can be sold on the market. After Colorado carried out a similar rule, natural gas production increased.

Preserving these rules would allow Senate Republicans to show they have some concerns for the needs of real people. The regulatory rollbacks passed by Congress and signed by President Trump so far have favored broad corporate interests or narrow special interests at the expense of human health, safety and security. For example, one of the four major environmental reversals undid a rule that would have required coal companies to keep toxic debris from mountaintop mining out of waterways. One of four reversals of labor-related rules stopped a regulation that would have required federal contractors to disclose labor law violations when bidding for government work. A gun-control rule to ensure that mentally incapacitated people would be flagged in background checks for firearms purchases was reversed, as was a rule to prohibit internet companies from collecting and selling customers’ data without their permission.

The Republican-controlled Congress and Mr. Trump have made their point about deregulation — and Americans will have to live with their decisions. If they spare the two remaining rules on their hit list, corporate America would do just fine and the American people would be helped.

— The New York Times, May 3

More in Opinion

Jodi Taylor is the board chair for Alaska Policy Forum. (Courtesy photo)
Private school, state reimbursement: family choice

By Jodi Taylor Alaskan parents have a legitimate right to choose the… Continue reading

Opinion: It’s time for bold action to protect our fisheries

Our fisheries feed the world and sustain our unique cultures and communities.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Hard to fill positions?

Paying poverty wages to support staff, secretaries and custodians is unacceptable yet routine behavior by our district

A copy of the State of Alaska Official Ballot for the June 11, 2022, Special Primary Election is photographed on May 2, 2022. (Peninsula Clarion staff)
Choosing a candidate – Who will best represent us in D.C.?

Voters are encouraged to do homework before casting a vote

Tourists watch as one of two cubs belonging to an 18-year-old sow black bear crosses the path between groups of tourists visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tourists have pushed us to critical mass in parts of Juneau

I don’t go to the glacier in the summer now to hike or watch bears.

Sens. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, read through one of 41 amendments submitted to the state’s omnibus budget bill being debate on the floor of the Alaska State Senate on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: The Alaska Senate’s foolish gamble

“All these conservative people just spent all our money”

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (logo provided)
Point of View: A few ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month

What are some things you can practice this month and subsequently apply to your life?

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Several past large fire seasons followed snowy winters or unusually rainy springs

Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: 1 candidate dined, 47 to go

By Alex Koplin Last month, I wrote a satirical piece for the… Continue reading

The logo of the Homer Trails Alliance.
Point of View: Connecting our community through trails

Homer is booming with housing development and the viability of long-standing trails is threatened