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EDITORIAL: Obama’s war on guns and oil
White House unleashes OSHA for revenge against hated industries
The Obama administration is using more than just the Environmental Protection Agency to “crucify” businesses it doesn’t like. Congress won’t enact any gun-control measures, and the American people aren’t interested in paying more at the pump. So President Obama has to get a lot more creative in pushing his anti-gun, anti-affordable-energy agenda. His latest technique is dispatching the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to wage small-scale battles against guns and oil.
On June 21, the agency announced a “safety stand-down” at oil and gas operations that will run through July 20. The idea is to temporarily stop work while a bureaucrat performs an inspection. “It is hoped that the stand-down will not only heighten awareness for workers in the oil-and-gas industry, but also identify and eliminate work-related hazards,” John Hermanson, OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas, said in a statement.
One day earlier, the agency issued a grave warning regarding the purported hazards of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an essential technique for extracting oil and gas from difficult locations. OSHA’s complaint is that fracking exposes employees to “respirable crystalline silica.” That’s a fancy word for the dust kicked up by trucks and other vehicles on a job site. It’s a bit suspicious that OSHA bureaucrats haven’t warned of the same danger at, say, archaeological digs at native American heritage sites.
To be sure, the affordable-fuels industry needs to take the safety of its employees seriously, but it’s increasingly clear that the Obama administration’s goals reach well beyond ensuring a safe work environment. That’s clear from OSHA’s outrageous issuance of $111,000 in proposed fines on June 11 against Illinois Gun Works, a firing range located in the Chicago suburbs.
Pistols and rifles happen to be noisy, and nobody understands that better than a firearms instructor. Yet OSHA believes it needs to tell instructors to use .22 caliber pistols “instead of larger caliber, such as, but not limited to, 9mm Luger and/or 45 Colt” to reduce noise levels. A far simpler and more effective solution would be for the federal government to ease restrictions it places on the sale of silencers, which would go a long way in achieving healthy sound levels.
OSHA’s complaint only grows more ridiculous when it describes how a range instructor was observed “reaching down on the range floor to collect a loaded handgun cartridge. The employee was not wearing any hand protection such as gloves.” Worse, this maniac was also seen touching a broom handle without gloves - increasing the fine by $4,200.
Penalties also racked up because the range carelessly disregarded the need for a “labeling system” with “hazard warnings, words, pictures, symbols or a combination thereof” to let employees know they shouldn’t try to drink Hoppes #9 or CLP Break-Free solvent, two commonly used gun-cleaning products. It also knocked the range for its use of Rust-Oleum spray paint without “precautionary measures to protect employees” - meaning a multi-part training course in how to avoid spraying oneself in the face.
It’s obvious what the White House is up to, and the American people shouldn’t stand for it. The right to keep arms is enshrined in the Constitution; the need for federally approved dust masks, gloves, labels and training courses is not. OSHA needs to stand down.
The Washington Times
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