The Regulatory Week in Review: April 15, 2016
IN THE NEWS
- As part of a broader set of reforms designed to prevent another offshore drilling accident on the scale of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) issued a final rule on oil and gas drilling that tightens safety requirements for underwater drilling and well-control equipment—measures that reportedly have been roundly criticized, with the environmental community asserting that they are inadequate, and the oil industry contending that they are onerous.
- In the fifth multi-billion dollar bank settlement stemming from the 2008 financial crisis, Goldman Sachs agreed to settle allegations that it improperly vetted mortgage-backed securities by paying a $2.39 billion civil penalty and providing $1.8 billion in consumer relief. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lauded the resolution as successfully holding Goldman Sachs accountable for its misconduct, while a company spokesperson reportedly said that the bank was “pleased” to put the episode behind it and that it had made significant improvements to its culture and internal processes since the crisis.
- The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill that would bar government officials from accessing emails without a warrant and, by updating the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, would help to account for changes created by cloud-based email storage. Although the bill is seen as a victory for privacy advocates, some critics of the bill, including U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.), have expressed disappointment the bill does not require notifying users when their private emails have been read.
- Thirty health groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association, called on President Obama to finalize a proposed rule that would allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars—a move that the groups said was necessary in the face of irresponsible marketing of cigars and e-cigarettes to youth, but which e-cigarette manufacturers have feared would destroy their industry, because the rule would require products introduced after Feb. 15, 2007, to apply retroactively for approval.
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- In a Politico op-ed, New America Fellow Lina Khan wrote that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) needs to revamp its competition policy to face the new challenges of the 21st century. She identified three priorities. First, the FTC should block anticompetitve mergers rather than fixing the mergers through regulated content. Second, it should give more serious consideration to online companies such as Google and Amazon. Third, the FTC should be more concerned about the potential harms of vertical integration.
- New York’s lax oversight of nurse licensing leaves many patients at risk for mistreatment, according to a recently published ProPublica investigation. Despite many other states’ nursing boards tightening oversight of their licensees, New York continues to not require license applicants undergo background checks or submit fingerprints. Even once violations come to light, slow and inadequate disciplining continually puts patients at risk.
- In a new paper, Bryant Walker Smith, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, outlined how states can encourage the development, deployment, and use of autonomous vehicles. He argued that rather than creating new laws specifically designed to regulate autonomous vehicle technology, states should focus on adjusting existing administrative, legal, and community structures to autonomous vehicles.