Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Senate Doesn't Like 60 Day Suspension of New Regulations

Three United States Senators (Wyden, McCaskill, and Markey) published a letter they wrote to the Secretary of Energy (Rick Perry) concerning whistleblower protections for employees of DOE (Department of Energy) contractors.

On January 31, 2017, DOE published a notice that it was issuing a stay on implementation of final rules allowing DOE to hold contractors accountable for retaliation against whistleblowers who reported nuclear safety violations. The Senators requested DOE to immediately reinstate these rules which, according to them, have clear impacts on public safety and national security.

DOE published final regulations establishing that retaliation against whistleblowers for raising nuclear safety concerns was a nuclear safety violation on December 27, 2016. These new rules allowing DOE to assess civil penalties against certain contractors and subcontractors for violations of the prohibition against retaliating against an employee who reports violations of law, mismanagement, waste, abuse, or dangerous/unsafe workplace conditions, among other protected activities, concerning nuclear safety we to become effective on January 26, 2017.

These new rules however were halted (or temporarily suspended) by the new administration who established a new process for managing the Federal regulatory process. The temporary stay is 60 days.

The Senators didn't like the action. In their letter, they wrote:
Whistleblowers at DOE have exposed substantial waste, fraud and abuse, as well as prevented serious safety violations across the DOE complex. That DOE contractors have retaliated against these whistleblowers is well documented. What's missing is DOE's willingness to do something to reverse the culture of retaliation among its contractors and to demand accountability. After failing for years to close a regulatory chasm that prevented the DOE from fully using its nuclear safety authority to protect whistleblowers, including the use of civil penalties, DOE finally di so in December, only to then suspend them a month later. We request that you immediately lift this suspension and reinstate these rules.
Good grief, its only a 60 day suspension. Do the Senators really think that contractors will use this 60 day stay to retaliate against whistleblowers?

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