More beryllium for the people

I saw Senator Warren warning us about a Trump de-protection move.

The Hill has more:

[The] AFL-CIO, a leading labor group, fears the Trump administration is planning to roll back a hard-fought worker protection finalized under President Obama.

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) completed a review last week of a proposed rule that the Labor Department submitted on the occupational exposure to beryllium.

In January, just days before President Trump was sworn into office, the Obama administration issued a final rule reducing the permissible exposure limits of the toxic material from 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 0.2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air over an eight-hour period.

The Labor Department then pushed the effective date of the rule back to May 20 under Trump to give the administration time to review and consider the new standard. OIRA’s review could signal that the administration is planning to roll back or weaken the rule.

Workers don’t matter. They’re just ants toiling away, making the owners rich.

Beryllium, a lightweight metal used in foundry and smelting operations, machining, beryllium oxide ceramics, composites manufacturing and dental lab work, is coveted for being lighter and stronger than steel, but it can pose serious health risks when it’s crushed to dust and enters the air.

You know, like coal dust and cotton fiber dust.

Bloomberg also reports, with tastefully muted enthusiasm:

Few Americans care about beryllium. Most have probably never heard of it.

But, it turns out, the metal — symbol Be on the periodic table — offers a case study on governing by President Donald Trump. With little fanfare earlier this year, the Department of Labor delayed and the White House began a review of limits on workplace exposure to the possibly toxic element used in cell phones and aircraft, handing industry a victory.

Across Washington, myriad rules are similarly being softened, mostly to the delight of corporate America. With executive orders, bureaucratic actions and unprecedented use of an obscure statute, the Trump administration has killed or postponed dozens of regulations. The controversies swamping the White House haven’t gotten in the way of an often under-the-radar, piece-by-piece realization of Trump’s pro-business campaign promises.

Pro-business and anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti-environment.

Some moves, such as relaxing Obama-era clean-water decrees, have made headlines. Many others, the beryllium deferment among them, have received scant attention outside a tight circle of agencies, businesses and often outraged public-interest groups.

They may seem minor, but they all add up. “He wants to free up as much of the economy from government regulations as possible and he’s found ways to do that outside the legislative process,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor and presidential historian at Princeton University.

To put it another way, he wants to free up as much of the economy from government protections as possible.

Chief executives may not see a clear path to the corporate tax cut they want, but they’re winning in a significant smattering of other ways. E-cigarette makers got a reprieve when Trump’s Food and Drug Administration pushed out the deadline for complying with tobacco laws. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration gave builders three extra months to slash laborers’ exposure to silica dust, which has been linked to cancer.

Companies bidding for big federal contracts don’t have to disclose serious safety and labor-law violations anymore. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt thwarted a push made under President Barack Obama to ban Dow Chemical Co.’s widely used pesticide Lorsban from food farming. The Department of Agriculture has twice delayed new standards for livestock labeled organic, which would require animals to have year-around access to the outdoors and enough indoor space to stretch their limbs.

Thank you, Donald Trump, for seeing to it that “livestock” will continue to live in such confined spaces that they can’t stretch their limbs. That way they’re happy to be killed.

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