OVERNIGHT REGULATION: The next big battle at EPA

Here it is, your Tuesday evening installment of OVERNIGHT REGULATION, the Hill’s new run-down of today’s top regulatory and enforcement news – and tomorrow’s biggest storylines from Congress, agencies and the courts. To receive the Overnight Regulation newsletter please sign up here.

 

THE BIG STORY:

Water wars: Debate over Environmental Protection Agency’s power plant regulations was so last week. OK, that’s an overstatement, but the EPA’s next major rulemaking scrap is quickly heating up.

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Amid pressure from congressional Republicans, the EPA announced Tuesday that it is extending the public comment period for its controversial “Waters of the United States” rule, through which the agency is seeking to make clear that its regulatory authority extends to streams, floodplains and smaller bodies of water.

The de facto delay comes as members of the GOP-led House Transportation Committee plan on Wednesday to grill Deputy EPA Administrator Robert Perciasepe and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy over the rule’s economic impact.

--What to watch for in tomorrow’s hearing:

1) Signs of wavering from the administration. More than 200 House members, and some senators, have called upon the Obama administration to rescind the rule, described by critics as a blatant power grab by the EPA. Does the extended comment period signal the first step towards an, ahem, watered down rule?

2) Signs of wavering from Republicans. Will GOPers view the extension as a good faith effort to find common ground, or at least a sign that their aggressive pushback campaign can be dialed back?

3) Cost estimates. Like most regulatory fights, this battle will ultimately be fought in terms of dollars and cents. Either side might float an economic argument in an effort to help shape public opinion in their favor.

--They said:

“This extension is in response to numerous requests received by the agencies. The agencies are continuing to meet with representatives of States and local governments, stakeholders, and elected officials during the comment period.” – The EPA

“It would be wiser still to withdraw the rule, step back and thoroughly weigh the costs and economic consequences for small businesses.” House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) on the extension.

 

ALSO ON TAP FOR WEDNESDAY:

President Obama is Boston-bound to headline a fundraiser after delivering a commencement address at a high school in Worcester.  But there’ll be plenty to keep us busy back in Washington, where the House and Senate continue a full workweek.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Obama’s pick to become the White House’s next budget chief, will appear for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee: http://j.mp/1ph55Tc

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicks off it’s annual Small Business Summit, which will feature speeches from U.S. Trade Rep. Michael Froman, political analyst Charlie Cook and Gen. Colin Powel (Ret.): http://j.mp/1llrNWR

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will address the National Association of Manufacturers’ 2014 Manufacturing Summit: http://j.mp/1llrNWR

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY:

The Obama administration plans to issue 182 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register.

-The National Park Service (NPS) will prohibit protesters (such as Westboro Baptist Church) at the funerals of soldiers inside national cemeteries, even after a federal court ruled an earlier ban may violate the First Amendment.

The NPS says such banned activities include pickets, speeches, marches, vigils or religious services, sports events, historical reenactments, beauty pageants, celebrations, parades, fairs, and festivals, among other things, that are "reasonably likely to attract a crowd or onlookers."

"The national cemeteries administered by the NPS have been set aside as resting places for members of the fighting forces of the United States," NPS wrote. "Many activities and events that may be appropriate in other park areas are inappropriate in a national cemetery."

The Park Service hopes that the small changes it made will be enough to appease the court. But it will not reverse the prohibition altogether at the 14 national cemeteries it manages. http://j.mp/1uToyZT

-The Library of Congress's Copyright Royalty Board will delay a new recordkeeping rule for sound recordings. The Copyright board announced it was considering the rules last month, but has decided to extend the comment period through June 30 to give industry groups more time to consider the changes. http://j.mp/1hMGWSb

-The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is pressing on with new food coloring regulations. The new rules adopt spirulina extract as a safe form of food coloring. Spirulina is a blue-colored powder or liquid. http://j.mp/SLsLB3

-The Interior Department will exclude Alaska Native corporations from receiving grave protections that are granted to Indian tribes. They previously qualified under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. http://j.mp/SwlZ1p

-The General Services Administration (GSA) will issue new mail regulations for federal agencies. The rules will expand security for government employees who handle the mail, among other things. http://j.mp/TGCaKR

-GSA will also issue new rules for U.S. government-funded air carriers that transport the cargo of foreign governments. The rule goes into effect immediately. http://j.mp/1nvZ6Xx

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW:

LET THEM EAT FISH: The FDA and the EPA are rolling out new guidelines that, for the first time, encourage women who are pregnant or breastfeeding to eat more seafood. The policy shift updates 2004 guidance that led many new mothers to stay away from fish: http://j.mp/1kig9Yf

IMMIGRATION ORDER: Tuesday’s executive power play of the day came from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who called upon the president to issue an executive order requiring new regulations for the treatment of people held in immigration detention facilities: http://j.mp/1xFm9o7

BIDEN TALKS BIZ: Speaking of immigration, Vice President Joe Biden made an economic case Tuesday for passage of an immigration overhaul: http://j.mp/1xFnyep

SMOKE–FREE FLIGHT: Senate Democrats are calling on Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to prohibit people from smoking e-cigarettes on airplanes. As The Hill's Keith Laing reports, traditional cigarettes are already banned on flights, but e-cigarettes have served as more of a regulatory grey area. http://j.mp/1uTCh2Z

ON THE MOVE: Former federal prosecutor Aitan Goelman is taking over as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s new director of the Division of Enforcement, after two decades of litigation: http://j.mp/1kYGHUl

SODA TAX: Not to be confused with the infamous Bloomberg soda ban, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) plans to introduce a bill in the coming weeks that will tax soda, according to reports. http://j.mp/1kjsdbJ

VIRTUAL WORKPLACE: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is releasing a computer game that small businesses can use to train employees to spot workplace hazards. Employees will be able to virtually explore potential hazards in a computer game, so they can quickly identify these problems when they spot them in a real workplace. http://j.mp/1ob9nM7

 

BY THE NUMBERS:

91: The number of days by which the EPA has extended the comment period in support of its Waters of the United States rule.

231: The number of House members who signed a letter in May asking the EPA to withdraw the rule.

18: The number of Republicans on the House subcommittee expected to put the proposed regulation under the microscope on Wednesday.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"When a two-liter cola is 99 cents and blueberries are over $3, something has gone very wrong.” – Rep. Rosa DeLauro, calling for a new tax on soda.

 

We’ll endeavor to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill’s Regulation page early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, viabgoad@thehill.com or tdevaney@thehill.com. And follow us at @ben_goad and@timdevaney.