Week in Review

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The U.S. and Canada announce joint climate change initiatives, the FCC Chairman proposes Internet privacy protections, and more…

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  • President Barack Obama and recently-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a joint statement detailing a series of steps that the two countries will take to combat climate change, including the development of regulations for existing sources of methane emissions, the facilitation of clean energy development, and a commitment to implementing the Paris Agreement—initiatives that some view as signaling the thawing of what had previously been frosty relations between the U.S. and Canada on certain climate issues.
  • In an effort to curb the ability of broadband service providers to use and disclose Internet consumers’ personal information, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated to the rest of the Commission a notice of proposed rulemaking that would apply the privacy requirements of the Communications Act of 1934—a statute imposing strict limits on the information that telecommunications carriers can share about consumers—to broadband providers, a move that some privacy advocated hailed as a “major step forward for the U.S.,” while some of its opponents, including one of the FCC’s own commissioners, criticized for being indicative of the “agency’s reckless approach to an important topic” on which “it clearly lacks expertise, personnel, or understanding.”
  • In light of what several Democratic U.S. House Representatives contend to be the Federal Reserve and other regulators’ overly lax approach to regulating the banking institutions that fall under their purview, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reportedly has begun laying the groundwork for its first-ever investigation into Wall Street’s alleged “regulatory capture” of the Fed—a term used to describe the process by which regulatory agencies become dominated by the industries that they are charged with regulating, leading the agencies to act in ways that benefit those very industries, rather than the public.
  • On the heels of of a recently-released report by the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) Inspector General revealing major flaws in the DOE’s review of federal loan servicers’ compliance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)—specifically in terms of the servicers’ failure to comply with the statute’s requirement that eligible service members be provided with an interest rate reduction on certain student loans—a group of U.S. Representatives took aim at the Department for not yet adopting the necessary steps to rectify this issue, urging Department officials in a letter to “correct this injustice” and “make enhanced oversight” of the SCRA a priority.
  • In an effort to ensure the safety of feed that farmers use in the course of animal production, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a guidance to assist animal producers with the development and implementation of measures concerning the acquisition and maintenance of feed.


  • The RAND Corporation released a new report evaluating the economic and financial effects of state-based immigration policies. Among the various immigration policies included in the analysis, the report found enabling unauthorized immigrants to obtain in-state tuition does not negatively impact authorized immigrants or native citizens by making college less accessible.
  • In a recent report, Thomas Stratmann and Christopher Kooper, scholars at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, analyzed how regulations limiting the number of ambulatory surgical centers in rural areas have affected healthcare availability. Stratmann and Kooper found that, contrary to their intended effect, restrictions on ambulatory surgical centers have actually reduced the number of hospitals in rural areas.