Overnight Regulation: White House warns against 'midnight' regs

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Tuesday evening here in Washington and things are slowly getting back to normal after Snowzilla 2016. It was fun for a bit, but we're over it. Here's the latest.

 

THE BIG STORY 

The Obama administration has advised federal agencies to finish their highest priority rulemakings this summer to avoid a burst of "midnight regulations" before President Obama leaves office.

In a memo dated Jan. 17 that was obtained by The Hill, Howard Shelanski, the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), asks agencies to adhere closely to the dates established in the fall 2015 regulatory agenda and to notify OIRA if deadlines need to be changed.

OIRA said it understands that agencies will need to issue regulations through 2016, since they are part of the government's normal operations, but said big regulatory initiatives should be finished well before the end of Obama's term.

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"To the extent feasible and consistent with your priorities, statutory obligations and judicial deadlines, however, agencies should strive to complete their highest priority rulemakings by summer 2016 to avail an end-of-year scramble that has the potential to lower the quality of regulations that OIRA receives for review and to tax the resources available for interagency review," the letter said.

OIRA reviews all federal regulations before they are made final. It is often called one of the most powerful offices in the government, though it is little known outside of Washington.

While OIRA said it will be mindful of agency deadlines when reviewing regulations, it said agencies can ease the process by providing advance notice about submissions and by making sure proposed rules are well drafted, thorough and complete.

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

The Obama administration will publish 155 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will issue new protections for certain endangered whales.

The NMFS is establishing two new so-called critical habitats for right whales in the north Atlantic Ocean. This will replace the old critical habitat, the agency noted.

The critical habitats will protect right whales in the Gulf of Maine, as well as off of the southeast coast of the United States.

The protections go into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/1nNE1fV

--The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) will issue new rules for freight ships.

The FMC is correcting mistakes made in licensing and financial responsibility requirements for ocean transportation intermediaries.

The changes go into effect immediately. http://bit.ly/1QAaJwB

--The Department of Energy (DOE) will issue new efficiency rules for commercial pre-rinse spray valves.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is strengthening the energy conservation standards for these devices.

The DOE estimates the new energy conservation standards will cost manufacturers about $1.1 million, but save consumers as much as $1.5 billion and nearly 120 billion gallons of water over 30 years.

The rule goes into effect in 60 days. http://bit.ly/1nwCFGy

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW

Sanders places hold on Obama's FDA nominee. http://bit.ly/1nNFy5P

Obama eases more restrictions on Cuban travel, trade. http://bit.ly/23ryiwV

Rubio: Obama's moves on Cuba are 'one-sided concessions.' http://bit.ly/1KD4Po7

Task force offers reforms to cut federal prison population by 60,000. http://bit.ly/1Tmga34

Supreme Court to weight in on gun violence. http://bit.ly/20rfPhj

Dems push back against 'negligent' gun dealers. http://bit.ly/1K95kv4

Dems look to ground private air traffic control plan. http://bit.ly/1RLUf5M

 

BY THE NUMBERS

197,000: Inmates housed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons

60,000: Decrease in inmate population sought by a congressional task force on prison reforms

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY 

"The BOP [Bureau of Prisons] has been operating at crisis levels for decades. As a result, its policies and practices have not kept up with best practice in the field, presenting a missed opportunity to rehabilitate those who are confined in federal prisons and thus promote public safety," said former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.V.),  releasing the final report of the task force on federal prisons.

 

We'll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill's Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and @wheelerlydia.

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