President Barack Obama may have left office more than three months ago, but his regulatory agenda continues to grow. Many of the rules and regulations he issued over his two terms in office are scheduled to go into effect in the coming months. Thankfully, it's not too late for Congress and the Trump administration to act. Here are four threats lurking in the background that should be stopped in the near term:
Federal Drug Administration menu labeling requirements: This rigid rule, which requires companies that have 20 or more locations to list nutritional information on their menus, will come up for enforcement beginning May 5. This will impact many businesses with red tape and threats of criminal penalties. Restaurants, franchises, convenience stores, and grocery stores – many of whom are independent small business owners – will have the most difficulty shouldering the costs of providing new menu displays.
The Trump administration could provide relief to companies delaying the rule or issuing a stay on it. Congress could pass a bill from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., called the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, which would provide restaurants and small businesses with flexibility in complying with the menu labeling rule.
Labor Department Fiduciary Rule: This rule will reduce regular Americans' access to financial advice, meaning that they will have a harder time saving and investing. Congress passed a CRA resolution of disapproval for the fiduciary rule shortly after it was proposed. Obama predictably vetoed it.
Congress should partner with Trump and the future labor secretary to delay the rule and ultimately overturn it. Earlier this year, Trump issued an Executive Order directing the Labor Department to re-examine the fiduciary rule—the agency had until April 10 (yesterday!) to delay implementing the rule until it will go into full effect.
Bureau of Land Management Methane Flaring Rule: One prime opportunity is overturning a BLM rule to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas developments on federal land. This rule is hugely expensive, with an estimated cost of $1.8 billion nationwide. In Ohio, more than 2,000 wells could be subject to the methane rule and retrofitting them could cost up to $50,000 per well. In North Dakota, the rule is estimated to reduce state revenues by more than $700 million over the Bakken's expected 30-year lifespan.
The House of Representatives passed a Congressional Review Act resolution overturning the rule several weeks ago, but the Senate has yet to act. Congress should immediately pass Sen. John Barrasso's, R-Wyo., Senate Joint Resolution 11 to nullify this BLM rule and send it to Trump's desk for his signature.
Environmental Protection Agency Endangerment Finding for Aircraft Emissions: In the waning days of the Obama administration, the EPA gave itself the authority to regulate emissions from aircraft. The agency issued an endangerment finding stating that greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft may impact public health. Carbon dioxide from aircraft represent just 2.2 percent of total emissions in the United States, meaning aircraft emissions have a miniscule impact on the climate, much less public health.
The EPA's move to regulate aircraft shows the agency will leave no stone unturned when it comes to regulating the lives of Americans and will drive up the costs of flying. Congress should stop the EPA's attempt to regulate aircraft by overturning it using the CRA.
Congress and the Trump White House certainly have a lot on their plates, but it's important to keep up their hard work in peeling back the regulatory state promoted by the Obama administration. Efforts to defund, block, and overturn these rules will send a strong message to the American people that their elected officials in Washington are willing to stand up to Obama's regulatory overreach. Inaction will send a message of compliance with it.
Christine Harbin (@ChrissyHarbin) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is vice president of external affairs for Americans for Prosperity.
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