In an October 24, 2012, speech during the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform’s 13th annual summit, Republican Commissioner Nancy Nord discussed regulatory review, cost-benefit analysis and how little of each she claims is happening at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). “If CPSC is at all typical of what is happening at other agencies, then we all need to be concerned,” Nord warned attendees.
Nord said that she has repeatedly requested that the agency conduct cost-benefit analysis on proposed regulations only to have that request voted down amidst charges that cost-benefit analysis just prolongs the process and causes “paralysis by analysis.” “This means that rules get rushed out, and they may impose burdens without commensurate safety benefits,” Nord said. Once CPSC’s acting chair, Nord saw her term end in October, but she will continue to serve until she is replaced. She has often been at odds with fellow commissioners and has been outspoken in her criticism, often issuing individual statements opposing CPSC action.
Meanwhile, CPSC “has been pushing out regulations that burden businesses and cut down on consumer choices.” In many cases, CPSC is taking actions that put small companies out of business, said Nord, pointing to the ongoing Buckyballs® case that involves magnetic adult desk products. In July, CSPC issued its first stop-sale order in 11 years, saying the magnetic toys “pose a substantial risk of injury to the public,” after cases of children misusing the product and injuring themselves arose.
This rare move of filing an administrative complaint on an adult novelty item without reaching a full conclusion about its potential hazards has basically resulted in a mandatory recall of the product and is threatening to put the small, New York-based company out of business, Nord said.
She also noted that CPSC has other tools at its disposal that would have been more effective in the Buckyballs® case, including requiring warnings or changing the packaging.
“We are issuing regulations without having done the necessary work to understand the impact of our actions both on those being regulated and on the public. As a result we have imposed regulatory burdens and caused people to lose their livelihoods without a real payback in terms of safety,” Nord said. See Free Enterprise, October 25, 2012.