America's CEOs have a long wish list for the regulatory rollback President Trump has promised to continue in 2018.
After delivering what the White House said was $8.1 billion in lifetime savings from reduced regulation in fiscal 2017, a period that included a little more than half a year of his administration, Trump pledged another $9.8 billion in the 12 months through September.
Here's a look at what industries from finance to technology and energy want to see included:
Volcker rule: A top target for banks in 2018, the regulation included in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act was named for the former Fed chairman, Paul Volcker, who proposed it. The regulation was designed to prevent banks from using deposits insured by the federal government to speculate in capital markets. The industry has argued that the rule, which took five agencies two years to write, harms banks’ ability to provide liquidity. The Trump administration has begun coordinating on ways to loosen the standard, an effort the Federal Reserve's new vice chair for bank supervision cited in a January speech.
Fiduciary rule: Brokers, financial advisers, and insurers are hoping that the Trump Labor Department will substantially rewrite an Obama rule that would require all brokers and financial advisers involved with tax-privileged retirement accounts like 401(k)s to provide advice that's in their clients’ best interests rather than merely "suitable." The regulation was meant to crack down on conflicts of interest in investment advice, and the industry has objected that the rule creates confusion about who is acting as a fiduciary and when, raises the risk of legal action against banks and may ultimately keep workers from getting the counsel they need to build up sufficient wealth for retirement. The Labor Department has already delayed part of the rule. Meanwhile, the Trump appointee-led Securities and Exchange Commission has begun working on its own version, which would likely be more accommodating to the industry.
E-cigarettes: Electronic cigarette advocates want to change a regulation requiring “pre-market approval” for all devices and liquids introduced after February 2007. A House-passed amendment would move the date to mid-2016, allowing more products to remain on the market without the cost and uncertainty of Food and Drug Administration review. The long-term health effects of “vaping” are unknown, and the FDA plans to require product applications in 2022.
'Conflict minerals' sourcing: The 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law requires companies to disclose whether their use of four minerals found in common consumer electronics — tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold — helps fund rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring countries. Companies complain that the costs of complying are massive, and the Securities and Exchange Commission suspended some enforcement last year. House-passed legislation would permanently nix the rule.
Broadband expansion: High-speed broadband wires have yet to reach many parts of the U.S., particularly rural areas. The industry wants to streamline the process of broadband deployment by reducing regulatory steps that slow the process, such as environmental impact assessments, while easing access to federal land.
Uranium mining: Uranium producers are waiting on Trump's Environmental Protection Agency to repeal a regulation on in-situ uranium mining imposed on Obama's last day in office. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the nation’s top nuclear overseer, has called the rule completely unnecessary. Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has prioritized its repeal, asking when the agency would do so at a Jan. 30 hearing his committee conducted with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The Obama administration intended the rule to limit the use of water and pumps to leach fissile uranium from underground deposits without removing the ore from the ground. Uranium is, of course, used in both nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors, and its domestic production is both a national security and economic priority. Pruitt could not give Barrasso a date at the hearing, but promised to follow up quickly.
Greenhouse gases: Libertarian and anti-climate change hawks are looking for Trump to continue what he started with the U.S. exit from the Paris climate change agreement by repealing the EPA endangerment finding that serves as the basis for all greenhouse gas emission regulations. A scientific ruling the agency made about a decade ago says greenhouse gases that alter the climate also endanger human health. It's used by the EPA to regulate emissions from both stationary sources such as power plants and mobile sources that include everything from mid-size sedans to heavy-duty 18-wheeler trucks. The EPA was crafting a rule governing carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft when Trump was elected president. Myron Ebell, the energy and environment director at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute and the environmental agency's transition chief, fears that if Trump doesn't rescind the EPA finding, the next administration could easily undo his accomplishments. Pruitt said Jan. 30 that he has no plans to address the finding at this time.
Energy efficiency: The Energy Department is working on scrapping the existing system of meeting mandatory efficiency requirements for appliances and replacing it with “some form of a market-based approach” to help manufacturers average their efficiency gains across all products. The measure is in its pre-rule information-gathering phase, according to the department.
Fluorescent lamp ballast: The Energy Department is also continuing its review of efficiency standards for fluorescent lamp ballasts, which it's required to conduct every six years. The examination is meant to determine whether regulations for the devices, which control the flow of electricity to the lamp fixture, should be updated or eliminated. The preliminary analysis is due in March.
Manufactured goods: The department is undertaking similar reviews for a variety of products, from commercial air conditioning and heating equipment to clothes dryers.
Oil and gas emissions: The EPA is considering the withdrawal of standards for the oil and natural gas industry known as “final control techniques guidelines” that recommend ways to reduce a form of pollution called volatile organic compound emissions from existing equipment.
Worker centers: Big business will be pushing the Labor Department to make rules clarifying the nature of so-called "worker centers" — nonprofit organizations that advocate on behalf of employees. Many such centers are funded by unions, and business groups contend they're actually fronts that allow the unions to circumvent federal laws covering union activity. They want the department to issues rules subjecting the centers to the same laws as unions.
Gig economy: Unions have made inroads to companies like ride-sharing firm Uber by arguing that their workers are not contractors — which would prevent them from organizing — but actual employees, and thus eligible to join unions. Business groups would like to nip that in the bud with rules expanding the definition of a contractor.
On the clock: Employers want the department issue a rule defining the minimal amount of time — "de minimis" in legal jargon — a person has to devote to a task to be considered working, so that minor activities like workers answering emails from the office or customers don't become grounds for wage class-action lawsuits.
— Joseph Lawler, John Siciliano, Steven Nelson, and Sean Higgins