Obama looks to issue many regulations before leaving office

Obama looks to issue many regulations before leaving office
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The Obama administration unveiled its semiannual regulatory agenda on Thursday, detailing the rules that federal agencies will make top priorities in the next year.

The White House is notorious for releasing its Unified Agenda on the cusp of a holiday when most people are headed out of town to celebrate the long weekend. The release of the spring 2015 edition was no exception, coming one day before the long Memorial Day weekend.

The lion's share of the actions appear to be regulatory holdovers from previous agendas, as the administration works to finalize as many of the rules currently in the pipeline as possible before Obama leaves office.

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The Environmental Protection Agency listed an August deadline to finalize its carbon emission regulations for existing power plants, and the Food and Drug Administration has given itself until June to issue its deeming regulations for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission's new safety standards for off-road vehicles are on track to be finalized by September. The new requirements are expected to include lateral stability measures, vehicle handling requirements and speed controls to keep vehicles from rolling over and crushing their drivers.

The administration, however, declined to add some proposals to its to-do list, despite pressure from outside groups. For instance, a proposal from financial reform advocates for regulations requiring corporations to disclose their political spending did not make the cut at the Securities and Exchange Commission. The measure was included on the agency's 2013 agenda but later abandoned amid fierce pressure from business groups and congressional Republicans. Groups had renewed their calls for the SEC to revisit proposal, but the item does not appear on the agency's 2015 plan.

Proponents of stronger health and safety rules cheered the release as evidence that the administration remains committed to finishing the work

“We are glad to see that the spring Unified Agenda includes so many important health, safety, and financial security protections,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “Too often, the release of this agenda is seen as a negative ­­— and the idea that regulations are somehow by their nature problematic is raised by corporate interests. The release of the agenda is a good moment to reflect on the importance of implementing the laws intended to protect the public via regulation.”