2014 OMB Report Shows Substantial Public Protection Benefits Achieved at Low Cost

With little fanfare late last month, the Office of Management and Budget released its 2014 draft annual report to Congress on the costs and benefits of regulations. The report, required under the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act, summarizes the benefits and costs of major federal rules – those anticipated to have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more and subject to review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at OMB – for the 2013 fiscal year, as well as for the previous decade. The report finds that once again, the nation achieved significant health, safety, environmental, and other benefits at a relatively low cost.

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Chemical Safety Report Opens Door for Improvements, but Strong Requirements Still Needed

On June 6, the interagency working group that President Obama formed in the wake of the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion released its report to the president, conveying its recommendations for improving chemical facility safety and security. The report outlines many of the significant problems facing chemical facility safety in this country, including limited information sharing, incomplete and incompatible regulations, and the need for greater use of safer technologies. The recommendations on these problems point in the right direction but leave the details to the individual agencies to resolve as they move forward on possible regulations and policy changes.

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UPDATE: Energy Department Revises Policy for Approving Natural Gas Exports

Update (06/04/2014): The Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed revisions to how it reviews applications to export liquefied natural gas to non-free trade agreement countries.

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EPA Proposes Limits on Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Existing Power Plants

On June 2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its long-awaited proposal to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

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GAO Report Rejects McConnell’s Latest Attack on Public Safeguards

On May 29, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report rejecting Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) latest ploy to stop EPA from moving forward with a proposed rule that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants.

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$3 Million Awarded to Texas Family Harmed by Fracking Toxins

A recent court decision out of Dallas County, Texas has made national headlines after a jury awarded $2.925 million in damages to a family harmed by Aruba Petroleum's intentional release of air toxins from fracking wells located near the family's home.

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Spring 2014 Unified Agenda: Agencies Expect Lengthy Delays of Critical Safeguards in Year Ahead

On May 23, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) quietly published its semi-annual agenda of federal agencies’ regulatory plans for significant actions expected during the upcoming year. Unfortunately, the Spring 2014 Unified Agenda does not send a strong message that the administration expects to finalize many critical safeguards, some pending for years, over the next 12 months.

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Minnesota Bans Common Antibacterial Chemical

Minnesota recently went on record as the first state to ban triclosan, a chemical commonly found in antibacterial soaps and body washes. A bill signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton will take effect Jan. 1, 2017, prohibiting the use of triclosan in products "used by consumers for sanitizing or hand and body cleansing."

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Transparency Will Help Air Travelers Choose the Right Flight

On May 23, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a new rule meant to better protect air travelers from hidden fees. The proposed rule would require airlines and ticket agents to disclose any baggage or other ancillary fees along with ticket prices in order to help customers compare the real cost of flights.

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Happy 5th Birthday, CARD Act!

Millions of credit card holders have benefited both from the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act), and the regulatory and enforcement authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which administers the law. This important safeguard, which turns 5 today, has protected and benefited consumers in significant ways.

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