Stay of Enforcement (and Its Value) in Doubt

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CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord may have spoken too soon Friday when she stated it was safe again for dealers to sell youth vehicles not meeting the new lead standard.

Two things are in doubt: 1) Nord’s authority to direct her staff not to enforce the ban for one year (supposedly the action that has made selling the vehicles safe again) and 2) assuming she does have authority, whether a green light from the commission removes all liabilities for dealers and manufacturers.

The second commissioner of the two-person CPSC, Thomas Moore, has issued a statement saying Nord cannot delay enforcement without his consent.

But an agency spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that as acting chairman, Nord can issue the delay by herself.

Nord announced the stay of enforcement in conjunction with her denial of the industry’s petition for an exclusion from the lead limit. Moore has yet to vote (the deadline is Wednesday). Unlike Nord, he has shown strong support for the legislation that created the standard. So whereas she reluctantly denied the petition, he may do so willingly — and may be less inclined to stay enforcement.

As explained in an ealier report, even if Moore agrees to cut dealers a break, state officials could still enforce the law. Nord seemed to have this in mind Friday when she stated that she hoped state attorneys general would follow her lead.

Would dealers be safe if both the CPSC and their state officials decide to stay enforcement? Perhaps, though Dealernews hasn’t been able to obtain a legal opinion.

Paul Vitrano, general counsel for the MIC and SVIA, doesn’t seem overly impressed by Nord’s move. He said on his Twitter blog that he was “analyzing the value of the stay, if any.”