Midnight Regulations Roundup

The Obama administration continues to chip away at the Bush administration’s midnight regulations campaign. Obama agencies took action on two more Bush-era midnight regulations this week and a third last week.

On Wednesday, Dec. 2, EPA announced that it will publish a notice proposing to withdraw a Dec. 19, 2008, rule that reclassified thousands of tons of hazardous waste as fuel. Environmentalists criticized the rule, charging that it would exempt the reclassified material from government oversight and regulation. The rule has been in effect since Jan. 20. (You may recall another significant event on that date. Coincidence?)

EPA should publish the notice soon at which time the public will have 45 days to comment. EPA could formally withdrawal the rule in early- to mid- 2010, if it moves quickly.

On Thursday, Dec. 3, the Department of Labor proposed delaying the implementation of an Oct. 2, 2008, rule which requires unions to report in greater detail financial information about their trusts (e.g. credit unions or educational institutions). Unions criticized the rule as an effort to burden unions with more paperwork.

The rule has technically been in effect since Jan. 1, but the first round of reporting is not due until early 2010. Labor is proposing to delay the reporting deadlines, likely until 2011. It says that a new rule to rescind the Bush rule is “pending.”

On Nov. 23, the Health and Human Services Department published a proposed rule that would revise a Dec. 24, 2008, regulation that placed free speech conditions on government grantees. As of Jan. 20, when the rule took effect, HHS grantees cannot engage in HIV/AIDS assistance activities unless they adopt a statement explicitly and unequivocally opposing prostitution and sex trafficking for their entire organizations or set up completely separate affiliated organizations.

The Nov. 23 proposed rule would change the Bush regulation, but only slightly, and would still serve as an obstacle for grantees. HHS is a bit handcuffed on the rule, since the anti-prostitution/sex-trafficking pledge requirement was imposed by Congress. The proposed revision is open for public comment until Dec. 23.

Continue to check OMB Watch’s midnight regulations webpage for updates.

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