CRAMER: Court Ruling Strikes Down Anhydrous Ammonia Regulations
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer released the following statement regarding today’s court ruling striking down efforts by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to impose more strict standards on retailers of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled with the Agricultural Retailers Association and the Fertilizer Institute that OSHA’s withdrawal of a long-standing exemption from OSHA’s Process Safety Management regulations did not follow proper procedure. The court ruled OSHA must first go through the formal notice and comment rulemaking process before implementing new standards on anhydrous ammonia retailers.
Cramer has been an outspoken opponent of the proposed rule, which was to take effect Oct. 1, and the onerous burden it would have placed on small fertilizer retailers and producers. The cost of forcing these retailers to implement the new rules was estimated at $30,000 for initial compliance, $12,000 for annual compliance and $18,000 every three years for an audit. Given these costs, as many as one-third of North Dakota’s anhydrous ammonia facilities could have been forced to close.
He and a bi-partisan group of 38 Members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez last October urging him to reverse the OSHA ruling. In March Cramer led a letter from a bi-partisan group of 41 Members of Congress requesting the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriations bill prevent using federal funds to implement new regulations. That language was included when it was passed by the House Appropriations Committee in July. Cramer also cosponsored H.R. 5213, the FARM Act, which would block OSHA’s new fertilizer regulations and force the agency to go through the formal rulemaking process.
“While this is certainly a victory, it is also frustrating because for the last couple of years we could have avoided this. Just a basic reading of the law would tell you that OSHA should have gone through a formal notice and rulemaking process. But it insisted it didn’t have to, so we had to put disciplinary action in appropriation bills, stand-alone bills and letters. After a couple of years it kept on going down a path of avoiding transparency, a thorough process and due process. And, here we are again with a court slapping down the Obama Administration because it just can’t stick to the law.”