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On Friday, February 24, 2017, President Trump signed another Executive Order (EO) aimed at identifying and eliminating federal regulations that burden businesses. Entitled “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” the EO states that “[i]t is the policy of the United States to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.”
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As part of its implementation of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, Public Law 114-182E reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”), EPA recently published two proposed rules, including a proposed rule that would govern the process for active/inactive designations and a proposed rule that would establish the procedure for prioritizing chemicals for risk evaluation.  Notably, although EPA has released a pre-publication of a third rule – proposing the process for performing a risk evaluation – that proposal appears to have been caught up in the Administration transition and has not yet been published in the Federal Register.

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During the campaign, President Trump promised to remove two regulations for every new one enacted. On Monday, January 30, 2017, he made good on that promise by signing an Executive Order (EO)  requiring agencies to identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed for every one newly promulgated regulation. The EO also requires the total incremental costs of all new regulations finalized in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 to be offset by eliminating costs associated with repealed regulations.

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On January 12, 2017, EPA published a final rule adjusting for inflation the civil monetary penalty amounts for the statutes it administers. This most recent adjustment follows on the heels of a major adjustment finalized in July 2016.  These adjustments are mandated by 2015 revisions to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act.  The new law required agencies to make initial “catch-up” adjustments by July 2016, followed by annual inflation adjustments beginning January 15, 2017.  In the past, EPA only adjusted penalty levels for inflation once every several years.

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Recently, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA”) in California finalized revisions to the regulations implementing Prop 65 – the California law that requires business to provide a “clear and reasonable warning” to consumers on products that contain any chemicals listed by California as causing cancer or reproductive harm.

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In the wake of Donald Trump’s election as the next president of the United States, questions have been raised regarding the fate of federal regulatory actions taken by the current administration. Recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actions are of particular interest because EPA has adopted a number of very high profile and highly impactful regulations. Commenting on EPA during the campaign, Mr. Trump stated that “[w]e are going to get rid . . . of [EPA] in almost every form. We’re going to have little tidbits left but we’re going to take a tremendous amount out.” While Mr. Trump later softened this stance by stating that he would “refocus the EPA on its core mission of ensuring clean air, and clean, safe drinking water for all Americans,” these statements illustrate that the Trump administration will almost certainly seek to roll back at least some of President Obama’s ambitious environmental initiatives. While Mr. Trump vows to reduce EPA’s size and repeal business-burdening regulations, these changes will not occur overnight. The following sections discuss ways in which an incoming administration may halt or repeal its predecessor’s actions.

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EPA’s update to the Cross State Air Pollution Rule is designed to address interstate transport issues under the 2008 ozone standard. The rule establishes Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) for 22 states in the eastern half of the U.S. (see map below) and requires ozone season NOx reductions directly from fossil fuel fired Electric Generating Units (EGUs) in those states. The rule is styled as an “update” to the Cross State Air Pollution Rule because it uses the same regulatory frameworks, with some updates, as EPA’s original Cross State Air Pollution Rule, which was finalized in 2011, vacated by the DC Circuit but ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court. Most of the states subject to the CSAPR Update rule were also subject to the original CSAPR rule with the exception of Kansas, which will be new to the ozone season NOx program under the CSAPR Update Rule. The rule establishes new, more stringent ozone season NOx emissions budgets for each state subject to the rule, and those budgets take effect in May 2017. While the rule was signed and posted on EPA’s website on September 7, 2016, the final rule was published in the Federal Register today and a copy of the Federal Register version can be found here. EPA has also separately published the unit-specific allowance allocations for the affected EGUs under the rule. The allowance allocations were issued in final form, without public review and comment, in a NODA published in the Federal Register on September 30, 2016.

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