White House deregulation push clears out hundreds of proposed rules


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House said Thursday it had withdrawn or removed from active consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalized during the Obama administration as it works to shrink the federal government’s regulatory footprint.

In a report, the Trump administration said it had withdrawn 469 planned regulatory actions that had been part of the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda published last fall. Officials also reconsidered 391 active regulatory proceedings actions by reclassifying them as long-term or inactive “allowing for further careful review,” the White House said.

The administration’s move to eliminate regulations makes good on a much-repeated Trump campaign promise to promote business-friendly policies. Investors have also anticipated the action, helping to push share prices higher on hopes fewer regulations will unfetter business growth and lead to higher corporate profits.

The Trump administration has identified nearly 300 regulations related to energy production and environmental protection it plans to rescind, review or delay across three agencies – the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior and Energy Departments.

Trump had already identified several of the regulations as targets in his March executive orders on energy, but they will now undergo a formal rulemaking process to be rescinded or revised.

In February, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to place “regulatory reform” task forces and officers within federal agencies in what may be the most far reaching effort to pare back U.S. red tape in recent decades.

Trump has vowed a sweeping cut in U.S. regulations and previously ordered agencies to repeal two rules for every new one adopted.

The Interior Department is reviewing an Obama-era rule that directed companies to reduce venting and flaring and methane leaks from oil and gas production on federal and tribal land, according to a White House semi-annual government wide regulation report.

Representatives of the oil and gas industry cheered.

“We just got through eight years of a regulatory onslaught, aimed at curtailing oil and gas production. So we are very supportive of the administration’s efforts to roll back regulation,” said Kathleen Sgamma, head of the Western Energy Alliance representing oil and gas drillers in Western states.

She said membership was particularly pleased about the effort to repeal the methane rule, which the industry estimated would have cost about $50,000 per well. Methane is one of the gases scientists say is driving global climate change.

The U.S. Transportation Department said it would review a number of Obama administration proposals that were close to being finalized including making automobile event data recorders mandatory, requiring sounds for electric cars and updating some crash test dummy standards.

The Energy Department listed dozens of energy efficiency standards for commercial and household appliances that it would review.

Much of the effort is aimed at rolling back or blocking regulations proposed during the Obama administration.

The White House said the regulatory agenda “represents the beginning of fundamental regulatory reform and a reorientation toward reducing unnecessary regulatory burden on the American people.”

The plan drew condemnation.

“Six months into the administration, the only accomplishments the president has had is to rollback, delay, and rescind science-based safeguards,” said Yogin Kothari of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Today’s release of the regulatory agenda confirms just as much. It continues to perpetuate a false narrative that regulations only have costs and no benefits.”

The regulatory agenda calls for the U.S. Labor Department to rescind an Obama-era rule that prohibits restaurants and bars from forcing servers to share their tips with untipped employees such as cooks and dishwashers. That 2011 tip-pooling regulation is also the subject of a legal challenge by the National Restaurant Association, which has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the rule.

Reporting by David Shepardson, Valerie Volcovici and Robert Iafolla in Washington; Editing by Chris Sanders and Nick Zieminski

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