Regulatory and Legal Reform

Policy and Legal

NAM Files Suit to Block OSHA “Walkaround” Rule

The NAM and allied groups are challenging the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s recently finalized “walkaround” rule.

What’s going on: On Tuesday, the NAM, joined by like-minded business organizations, filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Texas to block OSHA’s final rule revising the Worker Walkaround Representative Designation Process. That rule was finalized in April and is set to go into effect May 31.

  • The new rule would allow nonemployees—including union representatives, plaintiffs’ attorneys, community organizers and even competitors—to accompany OSHA inspectors on workplace safety inspections.

Why it’s a problem: Not only does the final rule fail to advance the agency’s mission of ensuring workplace safety, but it is beyond the scope of OSHA’s authority. What’s more, it violates businesses’ rights, the NAM said.

  • The new regulation “infringes on manufacturers’ right to exclude others from their property, threatens new liabilities and risks compromising manufacturers’ intellectual property. The NAM Legal Center is filing suit to prevent this harm,” NAM Chief Legal Officer Linda Kelly said.
Press Releases

Manufacturers Challenge OSHA’s Unlawful Walkaround Rule

The NAM Legal Center Joins Industry Groups Seeking to Block Rule

Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Association of Manufacturers, joined by other business groups, filed suit in the Western District of Texas to challenge the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s final rule amending the Worker Walkaround Representative Designation Process (Walkaround Rule).

The Walkaround Rule will allow an unlimited number of third parties, such as union representatives, plaintiffs’ attorneys and community organizers, to accompany OSHA inspectors on safety inspections.

“OSHA’s rule does nothing to advance its mission of improving workplace safety,” said NAM Chief Legal Officer Linda Kelly. “This rule is well beyond the scope of OSHA’s authority, and it infringes on manufacturers’ right to exclude others from their property, threatens new liabilities and risks compromising manufacturers’ intellectual property. The NAM Legal Center is filing suit to prevent this harm.”

Background:

  • For more than 50 years, OSHA’s walkaround regulation authorized only an employee of an employer to serve as another employee’s representative during an OSHA inspection.
  • In 2013, then-Deputy Assistant Labor Secretary Richard Fairfax issued a letter—commonly referred to as the Fairfax Memo or Sallman Letter—to a member of the Service Workers International Union, which stated that a nonemployee affiliated with a union or community organization could serve as a representative of employees during an OSHA inspection at a worksite without a collective bargaining agreement.
  • In 2017, a trade group challenged the Fairfax Memo as unlawfully issued outside the notice-and-comment process and inconsistent with OSHA’s regulation that authorized only an employee of an employer to serve as another employee’s representative during an OSHA inspection.
  • A federal court in Texas agreed with the trade group, and the Trump administration later rescinded the memo.
  • In August 2023, OSHA released the proposed Walkaround Rule, and the NAM submitted comments urging OSHA to withdraw it.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.89 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Policy and Legal

House Committee Approves PBM Reforms

The House Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed legislation Wednesday that includes much-needed reforms to pharmacy benefit managers, underregulated middlemen that raise health care costs for manufacturers and manufacturing workers (Fierce Healthcare).

What’s going on: PBM reforms contained in the Preserving Telehealth, Hospital and Ambulance Access Act include increasing transparency into PBMs’ business practices and delinking PBM compensation from medicines’ list prices. These changes will help reduce prices for seniors who rely on Medicare prescription drug plans.

Why it’s important: “When Americans face soaring prices for medicines or treatments, there’s a good chance that is because a PBM has driven up the price,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said Wednesday.

  • “These middlemen operate with minimal transparency, and their practices distort the market, increasing the list prices patients pay for medicines while making it more difficult for manufacturers to offer quality, affordable health care benefits.”

What’s next: The legislation approved Wednesday applies to the Medicare market. The NAM is calling on Congress to enact similar changes in the commercial insurance market to lower health care costs for manufacturing employees who participate in employer-sponsored plans.

Policy and Legal

FAA Authorization Moves Forward

In a bipartisan vote Wednesday, the Senate moved to advance Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization—but lawmakers still face a looming deadline to pass the legislation (The Hill).

What’s going on: “Senators voted 89 to 10 to overcome the first procedural hurdle and move toward consideration of the package ahead of the May 10 deadline.”

  • The draft 1,069-page bill—which already has been punted three times—sets the agency’s priorities. It would authorize billions of dollars in appropriations for the FAA, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars for the National Transportation Safety Board, from fiscal year 2024 through 2028.
  • But all 100 senators must agree to fast-track the measure for it to pass before next Friday.

Why it’s important: The FAA reauthorization bill renews statutes governing the agency’s civil aviation programs, as well as revenue collection authority. From air traffic operations to airport development, these functions are critical to the U.S. economy and the ability of Americans to travel.

However . . . Both Democrats and Republicans want amendment votes on the measure, and “lawmakers acknowledge it could be a bumpy ride” to passage.

A hot-button issue: One sticky wicket amendment that’s likely to get a vote would remove language in the bill that adds 10 flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

  • Senators from the Washington, D.C., area say the airport cannot handle any more traffic. Virginia and Maryland are home to Dulles International Airport and Baltimore Washington International Airport, respectively.
Input Stories

EPA Chemical Rule Will Add Delays, Costs for Manufacturers

a sign on the side of a building

The EPA recently finalized a rule that establishes a process for conducting risk evaluations for certain chemicals—but it will only hamstring U.S. manufacturing competitiveness if implemented, the NAM said this week.

What’s going on: In a final rule issued late last month under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA “will now consider exposure to chemicals in air and water and, when possible, combined risks from exposure to multiple chemicals” (Chemical & Engineering News).

  • “The [agency] will also consider risks to workers without assuming that they are wearing personal protective equipment [and] … chemical uses required for national security or critical infrastructure.”

Why it’s important: The final regulation will unnecessarily cost manufacturers in both time and money.

  • The “new TSCA risk evaluation rule adds too many additional barriers and requirements on manufacturers and risks creating de facto bans on chemistries essential to both existing technologies and the development of new innovative materials,” the NAM said Monday.
  • “Manufacturing relies heavily on new and existing chemicals, which are the building blocks of technologies that make modern life possible,” NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris told the agency last December. “To ensure continued access to the newest chemicals which can make essential technologies even more effective and efficient, TSCA should be administered in a manner that protects health and the environment while avoiding unnecessary adverse economic impacts on business enterprises.”

What should be done: The agency should revise the final rule, the NAM said.

Input Stories

Return to Broadband Rules Will Harm Manufacturing Economy


The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to restore Obama-era broadband regulations—a move that is outside the agency’s remit and will erode investment in telecom infrastructure, the NAM said.

What’s going on: “The commission voted along party lines to finalize a proposal first advanced in October to reinstate open internet rules adopted in 2015 and reestablish the commission’s broadband authority” (Reuters, subscription).

  • The rules, repealed by the Trump administration in 2017, will reclassify broadband as a telecom service under a law originally passed in 1934. This change will subject 21st century high-speed internet to regulations designed for the era of the rotary phone.
  • The Biden administration has been seeking a return to the 2015 regulations since 2021, when the president signed an executive order urging the FCC to reinstate them.

Why it’s important: The resuscitated regulations will have a significant and negative impact on the U.S. economy, as historical evidence shows.

  • From 2011 to 2022, attempts to impose so-called “net neutrality” restrictions depressed telecom infrastructure investment by $8.1 billion each year, decreased employment by approximately 195,600 jobs and reduced gross domestic product by $145 billion annually (Phoenix Center).

Our view: “Ultimately, [the FCC]’s broadband regulations are a solution in search of a problem,” the NAM wrote in a social post. “The U.S. already has an open and fair internet. This is just the latest in a long line of decisions adding to the regulatory onslaught facing manufacturers in America.”

Input Stories

New Power Plant Rules Unfeasible Without Permitting Reform

Final rules released Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from traditional fuel-fired power plants are not achievable without permitting reform—and they pose a threat to U.S. national and economic security, the NAM said yesterday.

What’s going on: The new rules, part of President Biden’s pledge to create a carbon-free energy sector by 2035, mandate that:

  • Existing coal-fired plants and new natural gas–fired facilities cut or capture 90% of their emissions by 2032;
  • Coal-fired plants drastically reduce wastewater runoff and severely tighten the emissions standard for heavy metals; and
  • Coal ash—including past deposits “placed in areas that were unregulated at the federal level until now”—be managed in storage ponds.

A first: “The power plant rule marks the first time the federal government has restricted carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants” (Associated Press).

  • The new regulations—which face almost certain court challenges—set emissions caps that plant operators would be required to meet.

Targeting major energy sources: Natural gas generates approximately 43% of all U.S. electricity, while coal generates about 16% (AP).

Why else it’s problematic: While manufacturers appreciate that the EPA heeded the input of their industry and did not include existing gas plants in the new requirements, as written the final rules are unattainable because the administration and Congress have not undertaken much-needed, comprehensive permitting reform, according to NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

  • “Congress and the president have not enacted permitting reform—making it impossible to achieve the EPA’s highly aspirational mandates,” Timmons said. What’s more, the final rules threaten “grid reliability because of the unrealistic timeline for power plants to adopt technologies within the next 10 years that have yet to even be proven at scale.”
  • Pushing through yet another set of regulations in the absence of systemic reforms burdens an already overtaxed national electrical grid, jeopardizing U.S. security in a way that “literally could leave Americans in the dark and factories offline.”

What should be done: The EPA should partner with—not undermine—manufacturers “to achieve a more balanced regulatory framework to help reach our climate goals.”

Press Releases

EPA’s Power Plant Rule Is Unachievable Without Substantial Permitting Reform

America’s Energy Security Is Threatened

Washington, D.C. – Following the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions standards for certain power plants, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“Manufacturers appreciate the EPA removing existing gas plants from its new regulation, following manufacturers’ warnings about the initial proposal. However, the rest of the rule causes serious concern because Congress and the president have not enacted permitting reform—making it impossible to achieve the EPA’s highly aspirational mandates. We call on Congress to get serious by enacting significant and meaningful permitting reform this year. That is essential to ramping up the use of renewables, carbon capture, hydrogen and nuclear, for example, to meet future demand.

“The final rule threatens grid reliability because of the unrealistic timeline for power plants to adopt technologies within the next 10 years that have yet to even be proven at scale. Our nation should be doing everything possible to make sure our families, businesses and manufacturers have a modern, strong and reliable electrical grid, especially at a time when global turmoil threatens our energy security. This new rule does the opposite, creating a threat to our national and economic security that literally could leave Americans in the dark and factories offline. In short, the EPA is rolling the dice with Americans’ electricity and therefore with President Biden’s manufacturing legacy.

“Our industry has made transformational investments in these technologies and clean energy solutions, and we are leading the way in their deployment. The EPA should be partnering with us—not undermining this progress. We will continue to press the administration to achieve a more balanced regulatory framework to help reach our climate goals.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.89 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Policy and Legal

Thermo Fisher Scientific Helps Manufacturers with PFAS Testing

As government regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances ramps up worldwide, Thermo Fisher Scientific is seeing a boom in its PFAS testing business.

“We’ve seen an increase in demand from a number of countries in the Americas and in Europe,” said Toby Astill, director of environmental and food safety in chromatography and mass spectrometry at the life sciences giant. “Those regions are driving more discussions around current and future regulations than other regions.”

  • In recent weeks, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued several final rules concerning PFAS. These include the first-ever national regulation limiting PFAS in drinking water to near-zero levels and, just last week, the designation of two PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund law.

Writing is on the wall: Thermo Fisher foresaw the need for comprehensive PFAS analysis early on. That’s why it’s been offering clients a full suite of testing capabilities for more than a decade.

  • Commonly called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down easily in the environment, PFAS were used widely in everyday products starting in the 1940s, owing to their ability to put out fires and resist grease, corrosion and stains in addition to countless other consumer and industrial applications.
  • Using chromatography—“technology that allows lab users to separate and analyze the different components in samples,” according to Astill—Thermo Fisher can “confirm the presence of a specific substance and determine how much is there.”
  • The tech is not limited to PFAS, however; it can also detect, down to parts per trillion, the presence of pesticides, heavy metals and other substances, Astill said. And it works on samples of almost anything, including food packaging, water and even air.

Aiding compliance: In coming years, manufacturers may need to analyze their PFAS exposure comprehensively to remain compliant with Toxic Substances Control Act and other international regulations, including those from the EPA, Astill said.

  • In 2021, the EPA released its PFAS Strategic Roadmap, addressing the entire lifecycle of PFAS.
  • Early last year, the agency proposed the first federal limits on PFAS, instituting maximum allowable levels for six substances in drinking water.
  • In January, it finalized an “inactive PFAS” rule, mandating that any company wishing to manufacture or import PFAS chemicals that haven’t been made in years must first get approval from the EPA.
  • That’s where testing comes in. “Manufacturers will want to figure out their [level of] PFAS exposure—whether it’s from their supply chains or the products they’re making,” Astill went on. “Because we see an evolving regulatory landscape, manufacturers need to have a baseline of where they are today, in 2024. That way they’re more prepared for regulatory compliance, and if needed, can review data retrospectively to understand trends. In fact, in October 2023, the EPA issued a mandatory one-time reporting rule on most PFAS manufactured or imported into the U.S. since 2011.”
  • This February, the EPA proposed two regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that added nine PFAS to the list of RCRA hazardous constituents with superfund implications. 

Smart legislation: Thermo Fisher recognizes that we still have much to learn about PFAS chemicals, including whether many of them are harmful in the first place and whether there are practicable alternatives. In light of the many unknowns, the company recommends that legislators take a judicious approach to their regulation.

  • “We don’t yet know everything about PFAS or all the PFAS” in existence, said Astill. “We need longer-term studies so we understand what we need to regulate and what we need to measure—be it in manufacturing materials or water—before we start regulating more.”
  • Forthcoming regulations should also take into account the difficulty and expense of implementing PFAS remediation solutions, she added. “Legislators and regulators should consider the fact that this is not an easy feat for companies.”

Working on an alternative: While Thermo Fisher is not involved directly in inventing alternatives to PFAS, it is working actively with organizations that are doing just that, and it’s optimistic about the outcomes.

  • “It’s [been] very difficult to find something with equal properties that is less of a potential health and environmental issue,” Astill said. “But what we have is a lot of intelligent global groups collaborating to share testing data and understand what potential replacement materials make sense—and that’s a tremendous opportunity.”
Input Stories

PFAS CERCLA Designation Will Harm Manufacturing


In a move that will hinder the growth of manufacturing in the U.S., according to the NAM, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday designated two widely used chemicals as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or Superfund law, Law360 (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: The addition of two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, to the federal list “means the EPA can investigate and clean up releases of the chemicals and ensure that leaks, spills and other releases are reported. Under CERCLA, the government and other parties can sue for contributions to cleanups and to recover costs related to those actions.”

  • The newly added PFAS are perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS. PFAS have been used across industries for decades for their unmatched ability to douse fires and resist corrosion, stains and grease.
  • The news comes the same month the EPA announced the first-ever national regulation limiting PFAS levels in drinking water to near-zero levels.

What’s in it: “The rule requires entities to immediately report releases of PFOA and PFOS that meet or exceed the ‘reportable quantity’ to the National Response Center, state or tribal emergency response commission, and the local or tribal emergency planning committee, according to the EPA.”

Why it’s problematic: “[T]his unprecedented use of CERCLA authority by the EPA will only hamper President Biden’s vision of growing the manufacturing sector in the U.S.,”  NAM Managing Vice President of Policy Chris Netram said, adding that manufacturers support smart efforts to remove harmful substances from the environment.

  • “The unique and unmatched chemical bond of these compounds means that there are no existing replacements for the critical products they make up.”
  • Furthermore, the overly broad designation of PFOA and PFOS as hazardous “will make it harder for our industry to create innovative products and jobs.”
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