Reg Watch

• The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a rule to significantly reduce air pollution from power plants in 31 states and the District of Columbia. The rule would focus on the reduction of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions to protect the ozone and human health and would guide states to meet specific agency-calculated state-by-state “allowance allocations.” Limited amounts of these allocations, under the EPA’s preferred tactic, could be traded between power plants as long as all states met their “pollution control obligations.” The reduction requirements would be incremental, necessitating lower emissions in 2012 and then 2014 from the selected states. Even though the rule would cost approximately $2.8 billion annually, the agency estimates approximately $120 billion to $290 billion in annual health benefits in 2014 alone. The rule replaces the controversial Clean Air Interstate Rule, which a judge struck down in 2008. The EPA is allowed to keep CAIR in place until the new rule is in place.


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Public comment periods are closing soon for the following proposed rules:


• The Food and Drug Administration is complying with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 by proposing that calorie and other nutrition facts be disclosed on menus for restaurants with 20 or more locations. The restaurants would need to be serving similar menus and be listed under the same name to be subjected to the rule. The comment period ends June 6.


• The Bureau of Economic Analysis has proposed a rule that would eliminate several survey requirements regarding direct investments. The eliminated information regarding foreign direct investment into the U.S. seafood market and other data is no longer required because the same records are being collected in other surveys by the bureau. The comment period for the rule ends June 6.


• The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a rule that would certify standard plant design for the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor. Utility licensees aiming to build and operate their own power plant would be able to reference this already certified safe design in future applications if the rule passes. GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy applied for full certification of this reactor, which lasts 15 years if granted. The commission is accepting comments until June 7.


• The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking comments about a proposed rule that would encourage the growth of Accountable Care Organizations under the Medicare Shared Savings Program. These health providers would sign a three-year contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to work with other hospitals, doctor’s offices and long-term care facilities in hopes of providing the best care at the lowest cost for Medicare patients. The rule was created as part of the Affordable Care Act and would allow participating providers to receive additional payments beyond service fees if they meet or exceed quality standards. The comment period ends June 6.