Seven Obama regulations to watch

Members of Congress are heading back to their districts this weekend for the August recess, but regulators across Washington will remain at work crafting new rules.
 
In coming weeks and months, the Obama administration is set to issue scores of regulations, some of them long-delayed and others stemming from more recent laws.
 
The Hill has assembled a list — by no means exhaustive — of notable regulations on tap that run the gamut from power plants to vending machines.

Here's a look at seven major regulations to come:
 
Power plants
In June, President Obama announced a major new initiative to combat climate change that would set limits on carbon pollution from power plants.
 
His proposal addresses both existing and yet-to-be-built plants, which will be addressed in separate rules from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
 
The first of those proposals, on new power plants, has been sent to the White House budget office for a review and is scheduled to be released to the public by September 20.
 
Menu labels
The Food and Drug Administration is finalizing rules requiring that calorie information be posted on menus at chain restaurants and fast food joints, as well as on vending machines.
 
The new requirements, called for under the healthcare law, would require that calorie counts be visible on restaurant menus and on signs near vending machines. 
 
Restaurants with 20 or more locations operating under the same name and selling the same items will be covered by the regulations. The administration is expected to finalize the rules in September.
 
Home care workers
People who help the elderly and patients with disabilities manage their daily lives will be entitled to a minimum wage salary and overtime pay under a long-delayed rule expected from the Labor Department.
 
The effort to extend benefits to the nation’s nearly 2.5 million in-home healthcare aides dates back to the Clinton administration and was given new life when Obama took office.
 
The expected rule would close a loophole in federal labor laws that exempted babysitters and people who spend time with their elderly neighbors from wage requirements. At the time the laws were written, the home care industry didn’t exist.
 
Labor unions have long pushed for the expansion of the law, and in June Vice President Biden personally vouched for their cause.
 
“Shouldn’t someone working 40 hours a week be able to make a wage that’s above the poverty level?” he said at the time.
 
The regulation was scheduled to be issued in July but has not yet been finished.

Silica
Safety and labor advocates have long pushed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a rule limiting the legal amount for silica dust, a sand-like industrial material.
 
Once inhaled, the dust can cause lung cancer and lead to severe injuries and death. 
 
Nearly 2 million workers are exposed to the substance, the agency estimates.
 
OSHA has been working on the rule for years, and in 2011 sent a draft proposal to the White House regulations office for what was supposed to be a 90-day review. Since then, the White House has held 11 closed-door meetings with labor unions and industry groups, but has not yet released the proposal.
 
In its biannual agenda for new rules, the Obama administration said it expected the rule to be finalized in July.
 
Now entering August, the administration has yet to issue the proposal.
 
Biofuel
Sometime in August, the EPA is scheduled to issue its final determinations for the annual amount of biofuel to be mixed with traditional gasoline as part of a renewable fuel program.
 
Called the Renewable Fuel Standard, the EPA-administered program calls for 36 billion gallons of biofuel to be blended into gas by 2022, a requirement opponents have criticized as governmental overreach.
 
The oil and gas industry has warned about an approaching “blend wall,” at which point the government would require a gas mix beyond what cars can handle.

Automobile companies have already warned that owners’ warranties will be void if they use a blend of 15 percent ethanol, known as E15, even though the EPA has said since 2011 that the blend is fine for cars.
 
ObamaCare penalty
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is gearing up to finalize its rules for the penalty that will be charged to people who do not carry health insurance.
 
Under the Affordable Care Act, people without health insurance who do not qualify for an exemption will be charged a penalty.
 
The agency proposed in January to set that penalty as either a flat amount of $95 per year or 1 percent of household income, though the amount will rise in future years. 
 
The penalty will go into effect starting in 2014.
 
Worker pay disparity
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is getting ready to propose a rule requiring companies to publish how much more their chief executives are paid than the average worker.
 
The draft rule should be issued “in the next month or two,” according to agency’s chairwoman, Mary Jo White.
 
The measure was ordered under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Supporters say it will expose and reduce the yawning pay gap between employers and their workers.
 
In the administration’s roadmap for new regulations, the SEC indicated that the proposal would be released to the public in October.
 
Businesses have opposed the potential rule. They say that it will be overly burdensome to calculate the pay and benefits for all workers.
 
— Ben Goad contributed to this report.