Here’s a little fun fact about me: I interned once for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I can’t remember with certainty what legislation I was specifically assigned to eyeball, but I recall vividly my office and the piles and piles of paperwork I had to mull through. I had a great view of one of House buildings, so from time-to-time, I’d stare out the window, anticipating the next time I’d attend a hearing with Henry Waxman leading the conversation. You couldn’t convince me that years later I’d be sitting in my home office passively “lobbying” on their and their peers behalf. I say passively because I’m not a paid lobbyist or even political commentator. I am, however, in a formidable position to educate and engage you on really important matters that have implications on American life as we know it.
Following the rule of law is key in maintaining civil order. We rely on rules to direct and guide our way in instances where the obvious may not be so clear. We rely on experts to identify a concern and then on their research to support those rules they propose be implemented in order to address those concerns. Those experts — via an agency, a consortium, a think tank, an institution, etc… cover ground for the public en masse and fill the gap.
Rules are in place to protect us from harm, danger, regardless of its imminence. We depend on those rules to maintain peace of mind.
The food industry has rules. Restaurants are regulated by the FDA and other agencies that have rules in place with our health in mind. Food labels. Expiration dates. Use and sell by dates. Temperature regulations. Exit doors. Evacuation plans. Safety inspection visits. Those are all rules we have to abide by in order to do business successfully without harming you. If even on a local level, the rules are there.
Our new administration is working on changing the way our rules are established and implemented through two key pieces of legislation. The REIMS and RAA Acts both have dangerous implications if passed by Congress.
What are the REINS and RAA Acts? In short — and I’m no expert, but have done considerable research — they undermine the a large purpose of the regulatory agencies whose work is to use experts to pen the rules. Under the guise of budget cuts and deregulation, the acts would in essence prevent the agencies from creating and enforcing the rules that keep us safe.
REINS specifically would require Congress to vote on a on any proposed regulation that has a $100 million or more annual effect on the economy. Furthermore, it allows Congress to sit on a proposed bill for 70 days, without taking it to the floor, and thereby rendering it null and void.
The RAA is equally problematic. “The Regulatory Accountability Act would fundamentally alter how Americans protect themselves from unsafe pollution, chemicals, drugs and other dangers – by undermining the Clean Air Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and a slew of other laws affecting public health and safety.” What does this mean? The process these agencies have in place to present legislation would be subjected to longer review periods, budget analysis and ping-pong hearings that cause a rift in time and open up the door to leaving us, the citizens, out of the conversation.
If you’re familiar with the Asbestos epidemic America suffered in the 90s, we can thank the efforts of the EPA and other legislative measures that protected us from further damage. It’s a still a problem. We have to worry about contaminates in children’s school water. The RAA threatens the very process our system has relied on for decades to keep a basic human need clean and safe.
My concern is not limited to the food industry and how what we foods we eat, though please do consider very specific actions that safeguard us such as labels for allergens, sodium reduction, trans fat elimination, GMO reduction, etc. The impact would cross so many areas of our lives, making our kids most vulnerable. A few examples of principle concerns with the potential of disarming our children are:
- Dirty air and water: The rise of asthma and other respiratory diseases are drastically increased by air pollution. These bills would make it harder to keep our air and water clean.
- Asthma: One in 10 US children has asthma, the most common chronic disease of childhood. Have air pollutants triggered an asthma attack for you or your child?
- Car safety: Would you know what to do if locked in the trunk of a car? Thanks to one survivor there is a glow in the dark safety pull inside trunks now, but this lifesaving consumer protection is now in jeopardy.
- Toy/product safety: What would it mean if there were no protections in place making the toys, products like pacifiers and sippy cups, or furniture you buy for your family safe.
There is something we can all do. We deserve a safe environment and our government has inherent responsibility to champion for, execute on and protect the systems and procedures that ensure a viable body of citizens. Clean water, clean air, healthy food, etc. should not be a luxury afforded only through the corporate interests of politicians. It’s a simple matter of our human rights.
We have rules that we can take liberties with and there are rules that our lives depend on.
I encourage to do additional research if you have doubt or additional questions. And if you’re convinced, call your Congress man or woman and exercise your rights. You can also help mobilize your communities to take action against the RAA & REINS Act by emailing your respective members of Congress via the click-to-email tool on momscleanairforce.org, who has sponsored this post.
All opinions are my own, 100%. I did unilateral research and agreed to use my platform to bring awareness in conjunction with Clean Air Moms. Read the following articles for more information: