January 23, 2009

Did Rahm Emanuel Just Suspend The CPSIA Or The Fix?

Alright, I just got an official "no comment" from the CPSC spokesperson, but from the text of Rahm Emanuel's memo, it sounds clear to me that the rulemaking and details of the CPSIA's new lead testing and certification standards are being suspended until appointees and designees of the new administration can review them. Here's what's covered:

this memorandum covers "any substantive action by an agency (normally published in the Federal Register) that promulgates or is expected to lead to the promulgation of a final rule or regulation, including notices of inquiry, advance notices of proposed rulemaking, and notices of rulemaking."
Which does not mean that the CPSIA standards don't kick in on Feb. 10; the lead levels and testing and certification requirements are built into the law itself, which passed Congress last summer.

But the details, the rules, the specifics of testing, certification of third-party testing facilities--and most importantly to all the small business, organic, crafter, and handmade children's product types, the exemptions--are all being put on hold until the CPSC gets some Obama-approved leadership. Whether that means the memo blocks the impending CPSIA disaster or blocks the rescue crews remains to be seen. I would be very surprised if the CPSIA situation has not been on the radar of the Obama transition team, and if they didn't already have some ideas on how they want to proceed.

The memo also instructs agencies to

Notify the OMB Director promptly of any regulations that you believe should not be subject to [suspension pending review] because they affect critical health, safety, environmental, financial or national security functions of the department or agency, or for some other reason. The OMB Director will review all such nitifications and determine whether an exception is appropriate.
The CPSC spokesperson would not say whether the Commission was pursuing an exception for the CPSIA rules.

Hmm, when I started writing this post this morning, the situation felt more optimistic--or at least certain--than I do now. Of course, if anyone is a lawyer who has actual knowledge in this area, feel free to drop me a confidential line. Or if I ever get the comments working again, you can leave your anonymous advice.

Here's a pdf of the memo, meanwhile: emanuel-regulatory-review.pdf

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