BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PLACES FREEZE ON FEDERAL AGENCY RULEMAKING PROCESS

The Biden Administration this week, imposed a freeze on new and pending federal regulations. The freeze is designed to ensure that new and pending regulations are first reviewed by Biden appointees for consistency with the incoming Administration’s regulatory agenda before they take effect. The freeze is directly aimed at the flurry of regulations proposed or issued during the closing days of the Trump Administration. Last minute regulations and subsequent freezes are common when presidential administrations change, particularly when the incoming president is a member of the opposing party.

The freeze places a 60-day hold on all final rules already published in the Federal Register but, with effective dates after January 20, 2021. Pending review, final rules subject to the 60-day hold may be issued as written, amended or withdrawn entirely after a 30-day public notice and comment period.

The freeze also halts further action on proposed rules, policy determinations, regulatory interpretations and other regulatory actions currently under agency consideration. Once reviewed, regulatory actions subject to the freeze will be amended or withdrawn altogether. Among these regulatory actions is a recent proposal by the EPA to ease underground storage tank compatibility requirements in order qualify existing E10 certified UST systems for E15 service. The EPA is also proposing to modify or eliminate the current E15 dispenser warning label and determine whether states are preempted from issuing their own E15 label requirements. Trump era regulations that do not qualify for the regulatory freeze because they took effect before January 20, 2021, could be rolled back more slowly by pending lawsuits or through the public notice and comment rulemaking process. These rules include: lowered mileage standards for cars and trucks; less stringent greenhouse gas emission standards for both stationary and mobile sources; and the recent “waters of the United States” rule that limits the definition of wetlands that qualify for protection from development.