Thursday, September 8, 2016

Shady or stupid, feds blow it with speed limiter proposal

As complicated as it may seem to some, there are steps to the rulemaking process. Those steps are in place, and each has a purpose, to ensure a transparent rulemaking process that allows the public the access and opportunity to give input on regs that agencies are planning to dictate our lives with.

The “proposed” regulation on speed limiters misses the mark. So bad. Like falling out of a boat and not even hitting water bad.

For starters, this is all because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted a petition a decade ago to consider mandating speed limiters.

That didn’t obligate the agencies to anything.

Yet they plod ahead. I doubt we’ll ever know why, but they have. At every single turn this proposal has hit roadblocks. Research had to be cooked up, literally numbers were tortured into submission, to back speed limiters. The White House obviously had serious misgivings about the proposal since it remained under review for more than a year when most proposals and new regs sail through review in about 90 days.

It’s truly baffling to see it progress to the point it has. But what clinches the deal on utter shock is what the agencies actually presented as a “proposed” regulation.

This “proposed” reg proposes next to nothing. It’s a federal government fishing expedition. In the proper regulatory process this would be an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking. That’s what that stage of the regulatory process is for. It’s floating an idea out to the public for input. It’s the tire-kicking stage of the rulemaking process. Try things out, see how they feel, see what the research says before buying in and creating a new regulation.

But here we are with pages of nothing remotely concrete enough to be considered a credible proposed regulation that the public can review and comment on with confidence. It’s a concept – limiting the speed of big trucks – and page after page after page of questions they want the public to answer.

I could spend days (actually I have spent days) wondering what in the world the motive is. It’s maddening to try and figure out what they think they are doing. I had to quit before I started wearing a tinfoil hat around muttering far-fetched conspiracy theories to anyone who would listen.

Regardless of what they think they are doing, putting this proposal out and pretending it is a credible foundation for a final rule is patently reckless. They might as well have just said, “Here, hold my beer.”