Monday, January 24, 2011

Let the Hearings Begin! Congress to Grill Obama Advisers on Regulatory Review Executive Order

President Obama issued an Executive Order (EO) on January 18th requiring all federal agencies to review existing regulations for the possibility of modifying or repealing them.  The idea is to determine "whether any such regulations should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed so as to make the agency's regulatory program more effective or less burdensome in achieving the regulatory objectives." The EO applies to all agencies, but is being looked at especially with respect to the USEPA by Republican committee chairs in the House.

For example, Fred Upton, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Commitee has called for Cass Sunstein to testify at a hearing to be held on Wednesday (January 26). Sunstein is Obama's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, part of the White House's Office of Management and Budget.  While the focus of the hearing is supposed to be on the EO, it is likely that committee members will use the stage to also voice their opposition to EPA's recent rules under the Clean Air Act.

Based on public pronouncements by the incoming Republican majority in the House, we can expect to see hearings this year focused on reducing EPA's ability to publish rules and issue regulations.  Regulations addressing greenhouse gas emissions are particularly targeted in light of the previous Congress' inability to pass any climate change legislation and the unlikelihood of such legislation even being introduced in the current Congress.

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