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As We See It: ALC Joins U.S. Chamber in Supporting Regulatory Accountability Act

By Jim Geisinger

The American Loggers Council supports sensible laws and regulations that are necessary to protect the public.  Our members are committed to the wise and sustainable use of our natural resources. 

Professional timber harvesters in the United States are subject to the most rigorous environmental laws in the world.  Though well-intentioned, many laws affecting our industry have become misapplied and misinterpreted through administrative rule-making and litigation.  Today’s federal regulatory structure has become counterproductive and costly to our small, predominately family-owned businesses.  It no longer serves the needs of our forests, natural resources, communities and national economy.

That’s why the American Loggers Council has joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in supporting swift action on the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) that directs the executive branch to fulfill its statutory goals in the least costly fashion and look for more public input to find the most efficient regulatory solutions possible.

The RAA is the first attempt to reform the federal Administrative Procedure Act.  It is an effort to better structure agency rulemaking between general regulations that are needed to keep society functioning, and those high-impact regulations that cost billions of dollars each year and that have a nationwide impact on jobs and the economy.

According to Bill Kovacs of the U.S. Chamber, by focusing only on high-impact regulations, Congress can control overreaching regulations while allowing the day-to-day operations of agencies to function. Under the RAA, the public would get an earlier opportunity to participate in shaping the most costly and transformative regulations.

Here’s how the RAA works: When an agency first decides to write a high-impact rule, it would be required explain to the public why the regulation is necessary, how it will affect business, jobs and the economy, and why the rule is the best available alternative. After evaluating the impacts of the proposed rule, agencies should select the least costly regulatory alternative that achieves congressional intent. Independent federal agencies would be held to the same standards of transparency and accountability as executive agencies. 

The RAA would also allow the American people the right to verify that high-impact proposed rules are feasible, cost-effective, and well-supported by good scientific and economic data. Finally, before awarding deference to agency decisions, a court must find that the agency addressed all standards mandated on the agency by Congress.

With a new president and a new Congress elected with a mandate to create and protect American jobs, we have a unique opportunity to establish responsible sideboards on agency rule-making.  We can’t allow this opportunity to pass by.  It is time for impactful regulatory reform, which the American Loggers Council supports and that the RAA can deliver.

Jim Geisinger is Chair of the American Loggers Council Legislative Committee and Executive Vice President of Associated Oregon Loggers. 

The American Loggers Council is a 501 (c)(6) not for profit trade organization representing professional timber harvesters in 32 states across the United States.  If you would like to learn more about the ALC, please visit their web site at www.amloggers.com, or contact their office at 409-625-0206.