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The Regulatory Week in Review: December 23, 2016

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IN THE NEWS

  • President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team announced that Carl Icahn—an investor who has held substantial positions in a number of companies, including Texaco, Time Warner, and Apple—will serve as a special adviser to the President-elect on regulatory reform. The transition team cited Icahn’s “intimate knowledge of what businesses need to grow and thrive” as qualifying him to serve as “a trusted voice in developing President-elect Trump’s America First economic agenda.” President-elect Trump reportedly said Icahn’s “help on the strangling regulations that our country is faced with will be invaluable.”
  • President Obama designated hundreds of millions of acres of U.S. waters in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans as “indefinitely off limits to offshore oil and gas leasing.” In establishing the ban, President Obama relied on the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which he reportedly claimed gives him the authority to act unilaterally. The ban was issued as part of a broader partnership with Canada that aims to “embrace opportunities and confront challenges in the changing Arctic.”
  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that he will introduce a resolution to eliminate the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) Stream Protection Rule—which aims to protect the environment “from the adverse impacts of surface coal mining operations”—under the Congressional Review Act when the new Congress opens its session in January 2017. Sen. McConnell criticized the rule as the “latest example” of President Obama’s “eight-year war on coal,” and stated that he “look[s] forward to working with the Trump Administration to provide relief to our coal communities.”
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew its draft Model Rules—which were initially released in August 2015 alongside the Clean Power Plan—from the interagency review process, in an effort to share the plan with “states that have requested Exit information prior to the end of the Administration.” Janet McCabe, the EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, posted the Model Rules and related documents online, but was careful to note that they are “still working drafts” that are neither “signed by the Administrator…[nor] published in the Federal Register.”
  • The Philadelphia City Council voted to present a ballot referendum to voters to amend the Philadelphia Charter to modernize the city’s procurement regulations—which have not changed since 1951—to reflect a practice called “Best Value.” “Best Value” procurement is used by most major American cities as well as the federal government and many states, and would allow Philadelphia to award contracts based on more factors than the current system of awarding contracts to the “lowest responsible bid.”
  • After conducting a multi-year investigation into lead in lipsticks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released draft guidance recommending that cosmetic lip products have a maximum lead level of 10 parts per million, which the FDA considers to both pose no health risk and be achievable for the industry.

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK

  • A report from the House Freedom Caucus—a group of members of the U.S House of Representatives who generally are “among the most conservative of House Republicans”—details “rules, regulations, and executive orders to examine, revoke, and issue” during President-elect Trump’s first 100 days in office. Among the rules the group recommends eliminating are the Overtime Rule, Waters of the U.S. Rule, and the Fiduciary Rule.
  • A Volcker Alliance issue paper written by New York University Professor Paul Light draws on a survey of 1,000 randomly selected Americans in August 2016, as well as data from eight public opinion surveys between August 1997 and this year and research by the Pew Research Center. Light identifies four “philosophies of reform” held by Americans, and suggests that these four philosophies “help explain why Mr. Trump struggled to break a support level of 45 percent en route to his electoral vote victory and why Mrs. Clinton was able to win 47 percent of the popular vote.”


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