June 7, 2017

In a Quietly Powerful Job, Rao’s Views Could Put Americans at Risk

Statement from Andrew Rosenberg, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (June 7, 2017)—Tomorrow, a Senate Committee will consider the nomination of Professor Neomi Rao to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. It’s one of the most underrated and powerful positions in the federal government—and Senators need to take seriously whether Professor Rao will act in the public interest if confirmed. Her views could put more Americans at risk, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

"As administrator of OIRA, Professor Neomi Rao would have sway over almost everything the federal government does to protect Americans’ health, safety and environment. Her record raises questions about whether she will really put the public first. In her writings and testimony before Congress, she has been clear about her hostility to the ability of agency experts to set public health and safety rules. That would put Americans in danger—especially the low-income neighborhoods and communities of color who are hardest hit by pollution.

"The job Professor Rao is up for is low-profile, but extremely powerful—and her views about the role of government are actually quite radical. Agencies are required to submit rulemaking proposals to OIRA for review, giving the administrator a large measure of control in how public health, safety and environmental protections move forward, even overruling agency experts.

"Professor Rao could sharply constrain the government’s ability to respond to health threats and implement popular, long-standing laws like the Clean Air Act. If they’re going to enforce the laws that keep our air and water clean, and our food and workplaces safe, federal agencies need the ability to craft rules based on the best available science."

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.