December 12, 2014

On December 12, 2014, I joined my fellow Commissioners in supporting the Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Plan.  I thank the staff for their commitment and hard work on the development of the base plan, their preparation for two Commission meetings, and their availability to answer my questions in the days leading up to the Commission’s vote.

I am disappointed that the Commission did not approve my amendment to change the status of the ROV rulemaking from a final rule to an NPR. Safety is a priority for all of us at CPSC.  Good governance is the responsibility of the Commission.  To attempt the completion of a ROV mandatory standard at an unrealistic pace will not end well and that is a concern for me.

As I have previously mentioned, the Commission has received two letters signed by a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators asking us to work with industry on developing a voluntary standard. Instead of heeding this recommendation, the CPSC has actually accelerated the process to create a mandatory standard.

The most important thing is to get this right. Recently our technical staff met with industry face-to-face to discuss the discrepancies, differences, and points of agreement reflected in the ROV NPR.  This was a very productive and fruitful four-hour meeting. It was obvious from that meeting that there was common ground and with additional discussion consensus could be achieved.  I would like to see the agency focus its efforts more on completing the appropriate analysis of newer model ROVS and assessing the impact of the 2014 voluntary standard while working with industry to explore the data, technical differences, incongruities, and discrepancies and work to develop an effective voluntary standard.

In Congress’ spending plan for FY 2015, CPSC’s appropriation is $123 million. Included in those funds, thanks to Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and the House Appropriations Committee, was a $1 million allocation for test burden reduction. As a result of these additional funds, Chairman Kaye proposed an amendment to add work on burden reduction to our FY15 Operating Plan. I was pleased to vote in favor of this amendment and thank the Chairman for submitting it.  I hope that the funds allocated for burden reduction will be used efficiently and will provide meaningful relief to the regulated community while still assuring compliance. The action on burden reduction must be robust and the pace swift.

I thank my fellow Commissioners for supporting my amendment to return Flammable Refrigerants to the active Voluntary Standards table. The Commission unanimously voted to include this amendment in the FY14 operating plan. A recent GAO report addresses the need for the CPSC to be better prepared to meet the challenges of new and emerging hazards. The use of flammable refrigerants is a potential emerging hazard and this small commitment of time and attention puts CPSC at the discussion table to express views of how the approach of using such chemicals might affect US consumers. Re-inserting flammable refrigerants to the active voluntary standards list enables CPSC to be involved at the early stage of a significant development that could potentially impact, for decades, well over 10 million products in production.

I thank Commissioner Mohorovic and Commissioner Robinson for their amendments on rule review. I am pleased to support them and hope that this is just the beginning of the agency moving in the direction of engaging in more rigorous rule review. 

Consumer safety is our mission and good governance is our responsibility. Rule review must be a part of good governance.

As we move forward with this FY 2015 operating plan it is incumbent upon on us as a Federal agency to remember that the dollars we spend belong to the American people. Therefore, we must be good stewards of the American people’s hard-earned tax dollars. We must hold ourselves accountable to the American people.

Recently, the New York Times released a poll that revealed that only 64 percent of Americans still believe in the American Dream.  The article stated that, “the majority of those polled said they were more concerned about the possibility that too much regulation in Washington could stymie the economy than they were about the prospect of inequality. Fifty-four percent of respondents said that ’over-regulation that may interfere with economic growth’ was a bigger problem than ’too little regulation that may create an unequal distribution of wealth.’ Only 38 percent said that too little regulation posed a bigger problem.”[1] 

Further, the Competitive Enterprise Institute found that federal regulatory annual expense is nearly $1.9 trillion.[2] While we may be a small contributor to that expense we must be vigilant that the benefits of rules we promulgate outweigh the costs and do not create undue burden on the American people.