There are a lot of different opinions regarding what the President's second term will look like, and they vary considerably. Depending on who you talk to, our country could be something between the Garden of Eden and the Apocalypse at the end of the four-year period.
Without commenting on the overall picture, we have been looking closely at the regulatory climate at EPA and OSHA, trying to get some picture of what the next four years will hold from these two agencies.
At OSHA, they are looking at limited budgets. They will probably pick and choose their battles very carefully. Look for movement in the Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (I2P2) proposed regulations as a very high priority, which may include new requirements for everyone. Combustible dust is the biggest unknown at OSHA for the cotton gin community. OSHA may try to use revised NFPA standards as their basis for regulating combustible dust rather than a mandatory standard. This could be one of the larger issues of the next few years.
At EPA, the biggest issue for agriculture will be the issuance of the Particulate Matter (PM) rules, expected in December. We are not expecting big problems with these rules, but you never know. The biggest impacts on agriculture could be energy related. We know coal will continue to be under a lot of pressure during the next four years, but the real question is whether that pressure will result in significant reductions in coal produced energy.
If we do see a significant move from coal to natural gas, then natural gas could become the next target through the administration's handling of the fracking issues.
Folks – it is going to be interesting and very challenging.
Kelley Green is Director of Technical Services for the Texas Cotton Ginners Association in Austin, Texas. Contact him at (512) 476-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.