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Ralph Nader > Special Features > Letter to President Obama RE: Appointments to NHTSA and OSHA

November 24, 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Every year, over 40,000 people die on the highways in our country. About 58,000 workers perish due to workplace-related diseases and trauma. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are charged with preventing these casualties along with injuries and illnesses of even greater number.

Having worked at the founding of these two regulatory, law enforcement agencies in the Sixties and Early Seventies I have been sorely disappointed at their lassitude and obeisance in recent decades as the so-called regulated companies learned to game them, coopt them, stifle them and delay them. For instance, OSHA did not initiate and issue a single chemical control regulation during the Clinton and Bush Administrations!

Upon your election, some of us entertained the thought that you would command a reversal, even if modest, of these passive agencies. As of today, these agencies remain headless. No one has been nominated to head NHTSA, after the first candidate changed his mind months ago, and your OSHA nominee David Michaels has been held up in the Senate.

As of today, fully forty five percent of your positions, confirmable by the Senate, are still not filled, ten months after your inauguration.

Isn’t it time for you to make a public statement backed by a compelling demand on the Republicans in the Senate to let you staff our government at the highest levels or at least bring these nominees to a vote on the Senate floor? The voiceless deserve no less.

Speak out, Mr. President, forcefully and visibly.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader