Ernst Pushes Back On OSHA Guidelines

Date posted - September 24, 2015

Washington, DC — Iowa’s junior Senator is pushing back on OSHA guidelines about the use of Anhydrous Ammonia.
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At a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management hearing U.S. Senator Joni Ernst expressed concerns raised by Iowans over OSHA’s recently issued guidance that negatively impacts anhydrous ammonia retailers in Iowa. Senator Ernst has heard from many Iowans that this guidance is overreaching and economically-burdensome, as it would impact the majority of traditional farmer co-ops in Iowa.

OSHA’s guidance would require more paperwork and increase compliance costs for each anhydrous ammonia retail site, which are the majority of farm co-ops in Iowa. Ernst says that Iowa retailers sell over a half a million tons of anhydrous ammonia to farmers each year, from nearly 800 locations across the state. She says retailers estimate the cost for compliance up to $25,000 per site which could push smaller retailers out of business. Ultimately, OSHA’s guidance will impact the cost of this widely used crop nutrient for Iowa farmers.

Senator Ernst pressed Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor, Mary Beth Maxwell on the Department’s decision to issue guidance in lieu of a formal rulemaking process, a choice that bypasses the ability for Iowa’s farmers, retailers and co-ops to submit comments.

Ernst asked if it were possible to go back and have OSHA go through the proper rulemaking process so that it is enforceable. She said, “If we are truly trying to correct a problem, then why don’t we go through the rulemaking process and make sure that we understand what it takes to go into compliance, open that up for public comment and review?”

Here are some videos that document the discussion.

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