New regs for Friday: EPA publishes biofuel proposal

A number of new regulations and proposals will be issued on Friday, after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Among them will be a proposal for a federal biofuel requirement and an effort to limit tax-exempt organizations from taking part in political activity.

Here’s what’s on the way:

Energy and environment:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing is proposed 2014 standards for a biofuel program that requires fuel refiners to mix some ethanol and other renewable fuels in with conventional gasoline. 

The agency lowered the ethanol mandate in the draft rule, partly in response to concerns from the oil-and-gas industry. They said that refiners were being asked to mix a blend of gasoline that cars can’t use.

Ethanol groups have expressed concern about the lower standard. 

The public will have 60 days to comment on the draft regulation.

Additionally, the agency is finalizing a greenhouse gas reporting rule to “improve the quality and consistency of the data collected by the EPA.”

Taxes:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury Department are proposing new rules that would rein in tax-exempt “dark money” groups from participating in politics. 

The draft guidance would set new standards for political nonprofits like Crossroads GPS, which is linked to Karl Rove, or Organizing for Action, which grew out of President Obama’s reelection campaign. 

The IRS is also issuing new draft regulations for computing net investment income and releasing temporary rules on voluntary withholding agreements and draft permanent regulations. 

ObamaCare:

The IRS is also releasing regulations for a new hospital Medicare insurance tax under the Affordable Care Act, and rules for an annual fee on health insurance companies. 

The fee applies to companies that receive more than $25 million in net premiums.

Finance:

Four financial regulators are trying to issue new rules for the liquid assets banks keep on hand.

The regulation is designed to help “the short-term resilience” of global banks, “thereby improving the banking sector’s ability to absorb shocks arising from financial and economic stress,” they said.

The new requirement would apply to banks with more than $250 billion in assets as well as other institutions that have been designated for special supervision under the Dodd-Frank Act.

The Federal Reserve Board is also adopting a policy statement on banks’ stress tests, used to make sure they can withstand financial shocks. 

Transportation:

The Federal Railroad Administration is adding requirements for trains to have a number of emergency exits and signage. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is asking the public to comment on how to best tell consumers about motor vehicle damage.

Congress told the agency to study the best ways to let consumers know about vehicles’ susceptibility to damage. 

Additionally, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget Office has approved the Surface Transportation Board’s attempts to collect some information.

Copyrights and patents:

The U.S. Copyright Office is setting a fee schedule for cable and satellite companies to file some statements. 

The copyright office is also adjusting the royalty rates that colleges and universities pay to use some musical compositions and that satellite carriers pay. 

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is proposing to implement parts of an international agreement on industrial designs.

Education:

The Department of Education is extending the comment period for regulations outlining assistance to states for teaching children with disabilities. 

Pesticides and chemicals:

The EPA is setting a tolerance for resides of the pesticide quinclorac on rapeseed.  

The Food and Drug Administration is updating its food additive rules. 

Government operations:

The General Services Administration is formally changing the name of the General Services Board of Contract Appeals to the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals. 

Fishing:

National fishing regulators are closing a zone of the south Atlantic to red porgy and vermilion snapper fishing.