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Slow progress by Bush's Consumer Product Safety Commission

          Under intense pressure from consumer groups, physician groups and the Democratic Party, the Administration's political appointees at the Consumer Product Safety Commission have promised to prepare regulatory proposals to respond to public concern over the safety of imported products.  The Republican acting-chairwoman of the CPSC has insisted on drafting the new regulations, and it is anticipated that the new regulations will be inadequate, tardy and rely too heavily on self-regulation and self-reporting.

          It was hoped by consumer advocates that the Commission would adopt rules allowing it to seize or block entry of dangerous products, and to enforce "voluntary industry standards" on consumer products.  Currently, the Commission cannot act until defective products are actually marketed in the U.S. and then its only alternative is to seek a recall of the product.  It was hoped that the new regulations would also prohibit discount retailers and internet-based companies from selling products that have been recalled.  The Commission does not currently enjoy that power.  According to the New York Times, Sally Greenberg, senior product safety counsel for the Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, suggested that the new regulations should include repealing a current legal provision that prohibits the release of information about product-caused injuries and deaths prior to consulting with the manufacturer.  Ms. Greenberg explained that this consulting requirement frequently prevents the publication of such injury and death reports entirely.

          We are confident that the Bush administration will use this announcement to put off meaningful change for as long as possible; and if any consumer-conscious change is made during the Bush administration, it will be as unobtrusive and ineffective as possible.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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