In a major win for the agriculture community, the federal courts recently struck an Obama administration rule that would have made buying fertilizer even harder than it already is. The rule, written by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), was a unilateral reinterpretation of existing rules and would have applied strict federal regulations for fertilizer storage to all agriculture retailers – and they did this without any direction from Congress. Because the courts ruled correctly on this issue, the rules did not go into effect on Oct. 1 as scheduled.
When I first heard about this regulation from Oklahoma’s agriculture community, it became clear that the many local agriculture retail locations across the state would have stopped storing fertilizer for sale to farmers. With fewer locations nationwide, the regulation would have put more trucks hauling fertilizer on the road and increased the cost and time it takes for farmers to get the fertilizer they need.
As the global leader in providing safe and affordable food, Oklahoma farmers and agriculture retailers do not need more costly and confusing regulations from the federal government – especially for product like fertilizer that is well regulated at the state level. OSHA’s new bureaucratic requirements would have added tens of thousands of dollars in costs to individual facilities.
In the court’s ruling, it stated that in order for OSHA to make this kind of change, they must adhere to the notice-and-comment procedures established by Congress. This would allow the agency to hear from people like you about how this rule would negatively affect them before it goes into effect.
I applaud the Court’s decision. Unlike OSHA, when I heard from many of you about this burdensome rule, I responded by securing language in OSHA’s funding bill that would have prohibited the agency from enforcing the new rule had it gone into effect. Between the language I authored and the court’s decision, OSHA is now back at square one with respect to this regulation.
The Obama administration has been aggressive in its regulatory assault against American industry. Whether it’s the Waters of the United States rule, the Clean Power Plan, or this rule affecting agriculture retailers, the Obama administration is attempting to impose more federal control over every part of the economy. In fact, even the New York Times is saying that President Obama’s major legacy will be one of heavy regulation. Fortunately, the courts are beginning to bristle at his expansion of executive power. They struck the OSHA rule and are blocking implementation of the WOTUS and Clean Power Plan rules until their litigation is complete.
But these rules could go back into effect if the balance of the courts is not restored. That’s what makes this election in November so important. Without the courts ruling against this expansion of executive power, the regulatory legacy of the president will last for a generation.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is the senior U.S. senator from Oklahoma and the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.