White House Orders Regulatory Review
Directive May Affect Implementation of New Oil Spill Program Amendments
On January 20, 2009, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel directed the heads of all federal departments and agencies to hold back some new and pending Bush Administration regulations so that these rules can be reviewed and approved by the administration of President Barack Obama. Though the specific effect of the directive is not yet fully known, it could delay the implementation of new amendments that streamline requirements under the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule and revised compliance deadlines under the rule. Also at issue are revised endangered species regulations issued just over seven weeks ago.
The White House order indicates that agency and department heads should withdraw proposed and final regulations that have not yet been published in the Federal Register and should consider delaying by 60 days the effective dates of rules that have been published but have not yet taken effect. In some cases, the public may have another opportunity to comment on regulations that were published but are not yet in effect. There is an exception to the order for regulations in emergency situations or urgent circumstances relating to “health, safety, environmental, financial, or national security matters.”
This review is a tool commonly used by a new administration to delay so-called “midnight regulations” put in place by a former president between the election and Inauguration Day.
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