CPSIA Update: Tell It to the Kids

By March 31, 2009General, Regulations

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter on March 27 to Nancy Nord, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, blasting her for being critical of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

From his news release highlighting the letter, “Durbin Blasts CPSC Chair for Recent Comments on Criticizing New Consumer Safety Laws.”

“Recent comments you have made in the press and in letters to Congress regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) show your continued resistance to modernizing your agency and addressing the genuine public concern over unsafe products,” Durbin wrote. You accused a law that significantly strengthens the Commission’s hand as having “taken away our responsibility to look at the risks and make judgments about what is or isn’t safe for American consumers.” You have also agreed with the appalling implication that the law is responsible for the deaths and serious injuries of children who ride adult ATVs and motorbikes. Noticeably absent from the majority of your public remarks is an emphasis on protecting consumer safety, which happens to be the mission of the agency you lead. Your recent comments make clear that your misguided personal views have not changed, even if they contradict the mission of the agency that you lead and the President that you now serve.”

Nord is a Bush appointee and has been a target for several Congressional Democrats and “consumer activists” who pushed for more restrictive, intrusive and expansive regulations in passing the CPSIA last year. We’re not naive about the partisan politics here, and if need be, blast away.

But it’s not Nord, it’s the professional staff of the Consumer Product Safety Commission that outlined the practical impossibility of the agency meeting the demands of the CPSIA. It’s the career, professional, nonpartisan staff that wrote the 21-page letter to Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), asserting the law’s demands have “severely overstretched the agency staff and has begun resulting in delays in implementation that will continue until we are able to fully hire and otherwise maximize the resources that have just been provided to the agency for the second half of fiscal year 2009.” It’s the professional staff that detailed the serious difficulties and major costs that the law has caused manufacturers, retailers, thrift stores and booksellers.

And it’s not political appointees who offer views like these, reacting to the law’s ban of children’s mini-bikes and off-road motorcycles. From the Temecula Valley News, California:

I thought that [the ban] wouldn’t be good,” said Hunter Rastavan, 11, of Lake Elsinore. There’s a lot of people in this sport, all the kids out there on minibikes, and it wouldn’t be fair ’cause everybody wants to ride.”

Marcus Gaffner, 10, of Temecula, said sadly, “When I heard about the ban it made me feel really bad that I couldn’t get a new 85cc bike. I’m outgrowing my 65cc bike. Isn’t this about Chinese products and not American or European products anyway?”

Austin Madigan, 8, of Temecula, stated, “I don’t think that it’s fair that as my parts wear out I won’t be able to get any more. Then I can’t ride. It ruins the sport.

“We’d have to skip up to a 250cc bike for me to ride and that’s not safe. I’m not big enough yet for that size bike, but our family has discussed it anyway.”

That’s the little picture, literally. Here’s the big picture, from the Motorcycle Industry Council, “CPSIA Ban On Youth Powersports Vehicles Could Cost Industry $1 Billion Annually“:

The projected loss is based on 2008-estimated value of the retail marketplace* for ATVs and off-highway motorcycles and factors out vehicles and related economic value not included as part of the ban. MIC projects that the estimated value of the retail marketplace related to all youth ATVs and off-highway motorcycles exceeds $1.5 billion, but the ban applies only to products that are intended primarily for youth aged 12 and under. Powersports companies have stopped selling affected youth products with lead content in excess of the limits identified in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that went into force February 10.

“The potential losses for the powersports industry are massive at a time when this country cannot afford additional economic losses,” said Paul Vitrano, general counsel for MIC and SVIA. “With these vehicles sitting in warehouses instead of on showroom floors, the related sales of most protective gear, accessories, and parts and services are virtually non-existent. Thousands of small businesses across America are impacted by this ban.”

There’s nothing partisan or political in the views of the children or the industry association, and they deserve a serious response.

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