April 8, 2015

On March 13, 2015, the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC” or “Commission”) voted unanimously to extend the comment period on the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for Corded Window Coverings.  The 75-day extension was requested by the Window Coverings Manufacturers Association (WCMA), in a letter dated February 2, 2015.  WCMA stated that the extension was needed in order for it to complete and submit the results of studies it commissioned to address questions posed by the CPSC in its ANPR.

More recently, we approved a second extension of the comment period on the CPSC’s proposed mandatory standard for Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROVs). This vote was taken after two industry associations, the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA) and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), asked for extensions.  OPEI requested the extension to allow them to complete and review the testing they are conducting to gauge the reproducibility and repeatability of the tests proposed by the CPSC in the proposed safety standard for ROVs.

The CPSC has worked for many years to try to get the window-coverings industry and the recreational off-highway vehicle industry to pass acceptable voluntary standards. Further delay resulting from these extensions is frustrating. However, in both of these instances, industry has represented to us that granting them additional time will result in their providing us information that could be helpful to our rulemaking process. I certainly hope that they uphold their end of the bargain.

I applaud the Commission’s commitment to an open and participatory rulemaking process. Broad participation by all our stakeholders helps inform our decision-making and ultimately our final rules. We must remember, however, that the CPSC embarks on mandatory standards rulemaking when products on the market appear to present unreasonable risk of death or injury to consumers. Every day of delay means that additional potentially unsafe products are sold. We must, therefore, always keep in mind that the delays caused by the extension of comment periods may come with tragic avoidable cost to human life and health.

It is imperative that the CPSC carefully weigh requests for extensions against our mission of safeguarding the health and life of American consumers. I supported these time extensions, because I expect that this will result in substantive comments that will assist the CPSC in arriving at the right regulatory decisions. However, we must be mindful of requests that are no more than an attempt by industry to simply further delay the passing of regulations. Further, ROHVA and OPEI should use this second extension of the comment period to provide the critically important data that I requested in my January 26, 2015 letters to them. To date, they have provided no such data.