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March 6, 2017

U.S. Commerce Department Wants To Know: How Can The Federal Government Reduce Your Regulatory Burden?

On January 24, President Donald Trump issued a memorandum on streamlining permitting and reducing regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturing. As follow up to that memo, the U.S. Commerce Department this week is expected to publish a “request for information” from stakeholders. 

The Federal Register pre-publication notice for that request can be viewed here

The request calls specifically for information on how the “construction, operation and expansion of domestic manufacturing facilities are affected by (1) the process of acquiring Federal permits required for the construction, expansion, or operation of such facilities and (2) the burdens of complying with Federal regulations for manufacturing facility construction, expansion, or operation.” Questions addressed to individual companies, which are outlined starting on page 5, include the number and nature of permits in specific sectors including best practices from individual states and top regulations that are most burdensome to individual businesses. 

On a phone call previewing the request, a representative from the Department of Commerce said there are few limitations on the responses from trade associations representing industries or sectors. The Metals Service Center (MSCI) urges its members to respond to this request. All responses will be published on www.regulations.gov and respondents will not have the opportunity to submit confidential information. The deadline for submission is Friday, March 31, 2017 at 5 p.m. EST. 

The National Association of Manufacturers is submitting a response to the request and in a memo last week to NAM, MSCI offered the following suggestions for federal regulations that need to be fixed right away:

  • SEC Conflict Minerals Regulation. SEC Acting Chair Michael Piwowar has asked his staff to review the efficacy of this rule. We urge the Trump administration to reverse it. This regulation placed significant costs on the industrial metals supply chain and has done little to help improve the lives of people living in conflict areas. Last year, MSCI sent a letter to House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) outlining the arguments against keeping the conflict minerals rule.
  • Clean Power Plan (CPP). This rule will significantly increase power costs for industrial metals supply chain businesses, but will have no physically measurable impact on world climate. Further, according to a Manhattan Institute study, the EPA’s cost-benefit analysis significantly overestimated the direct benefits of carbon dioxide reductions and significantly underestimated the specific costs of meeting future electricity demand.
  • Waters Of The United States (WOTUS). This rule would expand the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, including expanding it to ephemeral waters often found on agricultural and industrial sites. It would therefore increase costs for businesses in the industrial metals sector. MSCI believes this rule should be thrown out. Last week, President Trump issued an executive order asking regulators to review this rule.
  • Labor-Related Regulations. As part of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), MSCI has pushed back on Department of Labor (DOL) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overreach. Specifically, we oppose the DOL overtime rule and the OSHA injury and illness reporting rule, both of which are stalled. We also support reversing the DOL persuader rule and the NLRB ambush elections rule, which served no other purpose than to expand the reach of labor unions.

MSCI also noted that it supports ending burdensome Affordable Care Act regulations, including the employer mandate, and regulatory reform in general.