14 Obama regs Trump could undo

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to make slashing regulations a “cornerstone” of his administration.

{mosads}On the campaign trail, Trump suggested as many as 70 percent of federal regulations “can go” and also proposed a moratorium on new rules.

With control of both chambers, congressional Republicans are also eager to roll back Obama’s regulatory legacy. And they have a number of tools at their disposal.

The Congressional Review Act allows them to disapprove of rules within 60-days after they were issued. For older rules, Trump can instruct agencies to revisit the regulations or provide guidance to not prioritize their enforcement.

“There are a lot of policy disagreements between Trump and congressional Republicans, but one thing they can all agree on is regulations,” said Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the business-oriented American Action Forum.

Here’s a look at the top regulations in Trump’s crosshairs:


1. Clean Power Plan

Repealing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan is at the top of President-elect Donald Trump’s energy policy agenda, and he is likely to start the process of dismantling it quickly when he takes office.

The rule is the centerpiece of President Obama’s climate change legacy, mandating a 32 percent cut in the power sector’s carbon emissions by 2030. But Trump has repeatedly said that climate change is a hoax, and Myron Ebell a Competitive Enterprise Institute leader heading the EPA transition efforts for Trump, wants to cut back on the agecny’s global warming efforts.

“With a Trump presidency, I think it’s virtually certain that the Clean Power Plan will be revoked. I think the only question is how,” said Jeff Holmstead, a former EPA official under President George W. Bush and a lobbyist at Bracewell.

The regulation was made final last year, and now the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is examining whether to overturn it, and the Supreme Court has put it on hold in the meantime.

If that decision doesn’t come down before Inauguration Day, Trump’s Justice Department lawyers could ask to dismiss the case.

Trump’s EPA would then have to go through a full rulemaking procedure to undo the regulation.


2. Clean Water rule

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ Clean Water Rule, also known as Waters of the United States, was a frequent Trump target on the campaign trail, and one of the top Obama policies that congressional Republicans oppose.

It redefines the EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, making some small waterways like wetlands and ponds subject to federal rules, angering many major business interests.

Trump has put it among the EPA’s “most intrusive rules,” and singled it out on his transition team’s website.

The rule is also on hold while it works its way through the courts. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is considering its legality, but unless Trump works to repeal it, the rule is likely to go to the Supreme Court.

Similarly to the Clean Power Plan, Trump may ask the court to halt the case and then work to dismantle the regulation.


3. Ozone rule

Trump didn’t give the EPA’s 2015 rule to limit ground-level ozone much attention on the trail, but industry and Republicans have been vocal in their opposition.

The rule sets the allowable ozone level in air at 70 parts per billion, down from 75. Ozone is a byproduct of fossil fuel pollutants, so reducing concentrations would likely mean reducing fossil fuel use.

The rule is very likely to be either repealed or significantly weakened under Trump’s presidency.

The ozone rule is also in the courts, so Trump could tell the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to dismiss the case while his administration moves to rewrite the rule.

But since ozone regulations are supposed to be written with only health and environmental concerns in mind, Trump might choose to weaken the existing rule through lax enforcement.

“The finalized air rules will be difficult if not impossible to reverse but will likely face very little in the way of enforcement or further ratcheting down,” said Hayden Baker, a partner at Sullivan & Worcester.


4. Fracking rule

Trump made clear throughout the campaign that he likes hydraulic fracturing and wants to stop actions that make fracking more difficult.

Oil and gas mogul Harold Hamm is an adviser to Trump and a potential cabinet pick. Both men see fossil fuels as a key economic driver and want to expand their production and use.

The fracking rule from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management is likely a top candidate for Trump to repeal.

The rule sets standards for well casing, transparency and wastewater storage for fracking on federal land.

But it was overturned earlier this year by a federal judge in Wyoming, who ruled that the Bureau of Land Management doesn’t have the authority to regulate fracking. The Obama administration has appealed the ruling. Trump could simply drop the appeal. That could lead to litigation from environmentalists, but they would face an uphill battle.


5. Dodd-Frank regulations

Trump has said he is eager to roll back a host of regulations from the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Topping that list would likely be the “Volcker Rule,” which banned banks from engaging in their own in-house trading for profits.

Other contentious rules put in place by Dodd-Frank include requiring banks to draft their own “living wills,” detailing how they would be easily dissolved should they face collapse, and “orderly liquidation authority,” which gives regulators the power to step in and wind down an ailing institution.

The tricky part for Trump is that nearly all the major rules from that 2010 law have been finalized, meaning his administration would need to draft entirely new rules to replace them.

There’s also concern among the financial industry about needing to readjust to a new set of rules, after spending a fortune preparing to comply with Dodd-Frank.

A Trump administration could also substantially slow other Dodd-Frank regs in the pipeline, including stricter rules on executive compensation.

But a more likely path for wholesale Dodd-Frank changes would likely be legislation. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) — a man reportedly being eyed by Trump for Treasury Secretary — has crafted a bill that would substantially change Dodd-Frank, including scrapping the Volcker rule.


6. Financial adviser rule

The Labor Department’s controversial rule for financial advisers is a top target. The rule requires retirement advisers to act in the best interest of their clients and provide more disclosure.

Democrats say it protects retirees from bad investment advice, but Republicans and the financial industry worry it will raise costs and prevent low-income workers from getting needed guidance.

President Obama vetoed a GOP attempt to overturn the rule earlier this year.


7. Overtime rule

The Labor Department’s overtime rule is sure to be on Trump’s chopping block.

The rule, which goes into effect on Dec. 1, increases pay for more than 4 million Americans, who will now qualify for time and a half pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week.

President Obama touted the rule as a cornerstone of his efforts to counter income inequality. But Republicans say the rule will hurt small businesses most, forcing companies to reduce workers’ hours.

The overtime rule is also facing legal challenges from dozens of states and businesses.


8. Union ‘persuader’ rule

Democrats have hailed the Labor Department’s so-called union persuader rule, saying it will help bring transparency to union elections. The rule requires companies to disclose how much they pay anti-union consultants and what activities they were hired to do on the employer’s behalf. Companies often consult with attorneys and labor experts to counter union drives.

Republicans say the rule is an attack on free speech in the workplace and makes it harder for companies to provide information to employees who are considering unionizing.

The rule is also facing challenges in the courts and will be in Trump and Republican sights.


9. Contractor ‘blacklisting’ rule

Another controversial rule high on Trump’s target list is the Labor Department’s rule requiring federal contractors to disclose past labor violations when they compete for government business. 

The Obama administration says it does not want to do business with bad actors who broke labor laws.

“Contractors that illegally cut corners at the expense of their workers should not benefit from taxpayer-funded federal contracts,” Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said when the rule was finalized.

But Republicans say the rule goes too far, requiring federal contractors to report even minor violations committed by their subcontractors.

A federal judge last month put the contentious rule on hold while a court challenge proceeds.


10. Mandatory arbitration ban

One of the agencies facing the most dramatic overhaul under Trump is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Created as part of Dodd-Frank, the CFPB has been a constant target by Republicans, who argue it is overpowerful and unaccountable.

Among the agency’s priorities are rules barring financial companies from forcing consumers to enter into contracts requiring “mandatory arbitration.” The agency argues those provisions, which bar consumers from seeking class-action lawsuits against companies, are unfair to consumers. A rule was proposed in May, but is not yet finalized, and could be shelved by a Trump-run CFPB.


11. Rules on payday loans and debt cards

Another major CFPB initiative that could be in trouble is a rulemaking project aimed at payday loans and other types of borrowing that can carry extremely high interest rates. The agency launched a rulemaking initiative earlier this year, but those rules are not yet finalized either.

Similarly, proposed rules offered by the CFPB aimed at prepaid debit cards could also come into question.


12. Net neutrality

Republicans have long had their eye on the Federal Communication Commission’s strict internet rules. The 2015 net neutrality rules require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.

The FCC is an independent agency, but Trump could appoint commissioners who will rollback the rules. With control of both chambers, Republicans could also revive legislation that would have hampered the agency’s ability to enforce the rules. They regulations could also be headed before the Supreme Court


13. Menu labels

Health advocates have applauded the FDA’s menu labeling rules, which requires restaurants and grocery stores to list calorie counts for the foods they sell. The rules stem from a provision of ObamaCare and supporter say it gives consumers more control over their diets.

But opponents say restaurants may not be able to accurately estimate the nutritional content, because of the endless number of substitutions customers may request.

The calorie rule is slated to go into effect in May 2017, but it has been delayed over and over again, making it likely to face the chopping block under a Trump administration and Republican Congress.


14. Expanded tobacco rules

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating tobacco in 2009, but the agency stirred controversy last August when it expanded those rules to include electronic cigarettes, cigars, and hookah.

These tobacco products now face a lengthy approval process that could stunt the industry’s growth, critics say.

At issue is the lack of science surrounding e-cigarettes. Industry officials say they help smokers of traditional cigarettes to quit. But health advocates fear they will create a new generation of smokers. Business groups are challenging the rules in court. Congress may be able to repeal the rule through the Congressional Review Act.

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