The Senate has confirmed two of President Barack Obama’s appointees to the Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC), bringing the commission up to full strength for the first time since the 1980s
The new makeup of the commission comprises: Chairman Inez Moore Tenenbaum, confirmed earlier by the
Senate; the two new appointees, Anne Northup and Robert S. Alder; and two Bush administration
holdovers, Thomas Hill Moore and Nancy A. Nord.
In addition to having five commissioners on board, the CPSC has expanded funding and
authority as a result of enactment of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) last
year, and each of the new appointees has expressed a commitment to strict enforcement of the new
act, particularly where products are intended for use by children. Tenenbaum set the tone for
the reconstituted agency recently when she told an international safety audience in Singapore: “My
regulatory philosophy embraces open dialogue, information sharing with all stakeholders and a
commitment to finding mutual interests. When a law has been passed, I will ensure that our
requirements are vigorously enforced.”
One of the new appointees, Adler, has been involved with consumer safety issues for 36
years including service as a staffer at the CPSC, where he worked for former commissioners David
Pittle and Sam Zagoria; and on the staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where some of
his responsibilities involved oversight of the CPSC.
At his Senate confirmation hearing, Adler said he believes enactment of the CPSIA is a
“monumental achievement in promoting product safety.” He also noted a significant change in the
commission’s responsibilities since his earlier work with it as a result of the growth of imported
products, which he said account for 85 percent of the commission’s current recalls. He also said
that in spite of the new funding under the CPSIA, the commission staff remains 40-percent below the
level of 30 years ago.
Northup, a former Republican member of Congress from Kentucky, also underscored the
importance of the new CPSIA in providing new resources to protect consumers, noting that its
implementation will require new rules, new standards, new testing laboratories and new procedures
for dealing with imports. She said she will work with Chairman Tenenbaum to build a “collaborative
effort” to address the current challenges of the commission.
At some point, the commission is expected to address pending issues involving flammability of
upholstered furniture and a CPSIA-mandated study of the formaldehyde content of textile and
August 11, 2009