The Interior Department issues new offshore drilling regulations, Goldman Sachs settles lawsuit stemming from 2008 financial crisis, and more…
IN THE NEWS
- As part of a broader set of reforms designed to prevent another offshore drilling accident on the scale of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) issued a final rule on oil and gas drilling that tightens safety requirements for underwater drilling and well-control equipment—measures that reportedly have been roundly criticized, with the environmental community asserting that they are inadequate, and the oil industry contending that they are onerous.
- In the fifth multi-billion dollar bank settlement stemming from the 2008 financial crisis, Goldman Sachs agreed to settle allegations that it improperly vetted mortgage-backed securities by paying a $2.39 billion civil penalty and providing $1.8 billion in consumer relief. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lauded the resolution as successfully holding Goldman Sachs accountable for its misconduct, while a company spokesperson reportedly said that the bank was “pleased” to put the episode behind it and that it had made significant improvements to its culture and internal processes since the crisis.
- Three environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that the EPA has unreasonably delayed performing its duty under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions produced by U.S. aircraft—a currently largely unregulated sector that accounts for 3 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions, and that, in the continued absence of regulations, is projected to produce triple the amount of emissions by 2050. The EPA, for its part, reportedly has explained that it has delayed releasing a final proposal for public comment so that it could incorporate the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) emissions standards into the standards that it is developing.
- The Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation jointly rejected five major banks’ proposed living wills, which are dismantlement plans required under the Dodd-Frank Act in the event of bankruptcy. Despite the rejection, financial industry officials insisted there was no cause for concern, with the Financial Services Forum’s John Dearie claiming the living will process was intended to be iterative and that the banks are stronger than before the 2008 crisis.
- The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill that would bar government officials from accessing emails without a warrant and, by updating the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, would help to account for changes created by cloud-based email storage. Although the bill is seen as a victory for privacy advocates, some critics of the bill, including U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.), have expressed disappointment the bill does not require notifying users when their private emails have been read.
- The National Retail Federation (NRF) called on Congress to pass the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act, which would require the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to more closely consider the effects of increasing overtime pay before finalizing its proposed rule—a rule that the NRF called “misguided and extreme” for failing to account for regional differences in the economy, alleging that it would adversely impact Southern and Midwestern employers.
- Thirty health groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association, called on President Obama to finalize a proposed rule that would allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars—a move that the groups said was necessary in the face of irresponsible marketing of cigars and e-cigarettes to youth, but which e-cigarette manufacturers have feared would destroy their industry, because the rule would require products introduced after Feb. 15, 2007, to apply retroactively for approval.
- In an update to regulations for certified organic meat producers, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service proposed a rule that would clarify how livestock and poultry must be treated by organic producers and handlers, in part by setting maximum indoor and outdoor space requirements—a change intended to restore consumer confidence in the organic label.
- The U.S. House of Representatives reportedly will vote next week on a bill that would bar the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from regulating internet rates under its net neutrality rules—a change that the bill’s Republican sponsors say would merely codify existing regulation, but Democrats and net-neutrality advocates say would undercut FCC authority .
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- In a Politico op-ed, New America Fellow Lina Khan wrote that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) needs to revamp its competition policy to face the new challenges of the 21st century. She identified three priorities. First, the FTC should block anticompetitve mergers rather than fixing the mergers through regulated content. Second, it should give more serious consideration to online companies such as Google and Amazon. Third, the FTC should be more concerned about the potential harms of vertical integration.
- The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report examining the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) review process of banks’ resolution plans, which are plans that big banks must submit to outline a procedure in case they become bankrupt. In the report, GAO encouraged regulators to make their review criteria public, because a lack of information “could undermine public and market confidence” in bank resolution plans.
- New York’s lax oversight of nurse licensing leaves many patients at risk for mistreatment, according to a recently published ProPublica investigation. Despite many other states’ nursing boards tightening oversight of their licensees, New York continues to not require license applicants undergo background checks or submit fingerprints. Even once violations come to light, slow and inadequate disciplining continually puts patients at risk.
- In a new paper, Bryant Walker Smith, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, outlined how states can encourage the development, deployment, and use of autonomous vehicles. He argued that rather than creating new laws specifically designed to regulate autonomous vehicle technology, states should focus on adjusting existing administrative, legal, and community structures to autonomous vehicles.