Overnight Regulation: Obama to halt new Arctic drilling; Judge blocks union 'persuader' rule

Overnight Regulation: Obama to halt new Arctic drilling; Judge blocks union 'persuader' rule
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Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill, the federal agencies, the courts and beyond. It's Wednesday evening here in Washington. Here's the latest.

 

THE BIG STORIES

ARCTIC DRILLING

President Obama is moving forward with a plan that would block new drilling leases in the Arctic through 2022.

The Interior Department's five-year plan will prohibit offshore drilling by oil and gas companies in the Arctic Ocean -- a move that environmentalists have long said is essential to protect the climate and prevent spills.

But President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpClinton takes swipe at 'false equivalency' in media coverage of 2016 election Trump asked Netanyahu if he actually cares about peace: report Official: Trump to urge North Korea to dismantle nuclear program in return for sanctions relief MORE could likely overturn the Arctic drilling ban when he enters office in January.

The Hill's Tim Cama has the full story:

President Obama is planning in the coming days to release an offshore oil and natural gas plan that blocks new drilling leases in the Arctic Ocean through 2022, people familiar with the plan said.

The decision is part of the Interior Department's five-year plan for offshore drilling, which lays out all of the proposed auctions for drilling rights on the outer continental shelf.

There will be no drilling rights sales between 2017 and 2022 in the Beaufort or Chukchi seas, which comprise the United States's share of the Arctic Ocean, north of Alaska, according to two sources.

Since Obama's decision is so late in his presidency, Congress could act early next year to overturn it through the Congressional Review Act, something President-elect Donald Trump would likely approve.

Environmentalists concerned about the climate impacts, potential spills and other effects from offshore drilling have pushed Obama to reduce offshore drilling and block it completely from the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

They specifically have asked Obama to invoke a rarely used legislative provision they argue would allow him to permanently prevent drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic. Calls for that sort of prohibition have grown significantly in the last week since the election of Trump as the next president.

It is unclear if Obama plans to implement such a ban. http://bit.ly/2fZ5JUN

 

BLOW TO LABOR DEPARTMENT UNION RULE:

A federal court judge in Texas on Wednesday issued an order to block the Labor Department from enforcing its union "persuader rule."

Judge Sam Cummings granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) that turns the temporary stay he ordered in June into a permanent injunction.

In the two-page order, he said the rule "should be held unlawful and set aside."

The rule finalized in March would force employers to disclose outside consultants they hire to counter workers' union organizing efforts.

Business groups, including NFIB and the National Association of Manufacturers sued over the rule, arguing that it violated employers' First Amendment rights to free speech and will prevent employers from seeking legal counsel.

"Small business owners today are relieved that they will still have the right to seek legal advice when facing a union election," said Karen Harned, executive director of the NFIB's Small Business Legal Center, in a statement.

"Labor law is extremely complicated, and small business owners rely on the advice of experts to help them navigate through unfamiliar territory." 

In an email to The Hill, the Labor Department said, "We do not have a comment at this time." http://bit.ly/2ghDovw

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY 

The Senate Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing to examine the economic outlook. They will hear from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen. http://bit.ly/2eH1zD2

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

The Obama administration will publish 138 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register.

Here's what is happening:

--The Department of the Treasury will propose new wine labeling regulations.

The Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) will consider allowing vineyards to use the names of new grape varieties.

"The proposed amendments would allow wine bottlers to use these additional approved grape variety names on wine labels and in wine advertisements," the agency says.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/2ghx9HZ

--The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will issue new protections for LGBT people seeking emergency housing in Native American or Hawaiian homeless shelters.

HUD created the LGBT protections for most homeless shelters in February 2012, but did not address those that serve Native Americans and Native Hawaiian communities. The new rule will extend those protections.

HUD says it is responsible for "providing decent housing and a suitable living environment for all."

The changes go into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/2eGNbLo

--The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will exempt dozens of truck drivers from vision requirements that would otherwise prohibit them from operating commercial motor vehicles between states.

These truck drivers often have poor vision in one eye, but argue they can see well enough in the other eye to drive safely.

The agency will grant the vision exemptions to 79 truck drivers -- but at the same time, will reject another 84 truck drivers with poor vision. http://bit.ly/2fWbEK2 and http://bit.ly/2fWRRc5

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW 

Feinstein given key role vetting Trump's Supreme Court nominee http://bit.ly/2fWhxqF

Eye doctors facing new contact lens rules http://bit.ly/2eGUJgX

Pro-regulatory groups urge Congress to pass 'clean' spending bill http://bit.ly/2ghPepi

Top Republican warns agencies against 'midnight regulations' http://bit.ly/2fZDFRi

Kerry: Trump shouldn't make climate change a 'partisan' issue http://bit.ly/2eHdO2I

Feds cancel drilling leases near tribal lands in Montana http://bit.ly/2fWxwVD

Google CEO to meet with EU antitrust chief http://bit.ly/2giCfEP

NFL, New York settle lawsuit over ticket prices http://bit.ly/2fYiZey

Feds find 'major' problems with D.C. Metro repair effort http://bit.ly/2giCu2H

Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKorean peace talks pose new challenge for Trump GOP sold Americans a bill of goods with tax reform law Republicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller MORE floats Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz's Dem challenger slams Time piece praising Trump Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election 32 male senators back Senate women's calls to change harassment rules MORE for Supreme Court  – The Huffington Post http://huff.to/2fTzC8u

Trump eyes Moskowitz for education secretary – AP http://apne.ws/2eGUItr

 

BY THE NUMBERS 

750: The number of "poison pill" riders the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards claims are in the 2017 government spending bill. The advocacy group claims the measures will roll back health and safety protections. http://bit.ly/2ghPepi