This Week in Regulation

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NRDC files a motion for summary judgment in 1-in-2-out case, Senators introduce SCRAP Act, and more…

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IN THE NEWS

  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a proposed rule intended to roll back net neutrality regulations. Aiming to speed the transition from copper networks to next-generation networks, the FCC believes this proposed rule would make it easier for broadband providers to “build, maintain, and upgrade their networks, which will lead to more affordable and available Internet access and other broadband services for consumers and businesses alike.”
  • The  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received over 55,000 comments about which regulations need to be repealed, replaced, or modified by the time the comment period closed on Monday. Several comments submitted noted that some regulations are unnecessary or overly restrictive; however, most comments urged the EPA not to undo safeguards that could increase pollution, especially if it is only to reduce burdens on corporations. A taskforce of agency staff will review and comments and submit a report to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt identifying those regulations it found to need repeal, replacement, or modification.
  • The FCC accepted rules that will more effectively prevent prisoners from using “contraband wireless device[s].” The rules note that prisoners’ use of such contraband devices is for criminal purposes and poses a threat to the security of prisons as well as to the public at large. By removing some procedural rules for using “contraband wireless device interdiction systems,” the FCC hopes that the systems will “be deployed more quickly and efficiently.”
  • The Texas Senate has approved  a bill that would give the state, rather than cities, the ability to regulate ridesharing companies. Under the bill, known as HB 100, local ordinances would be preempted by state regulations. Among the ordinances preempted would be Houston and San Antonio’s requirement that transportation network companies, or ridesharing companies, fingerprint their drivers.. The bill would also allow the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to revoke licenses to operate if rules are not followed.
  • Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) signed an executive directive instructing his state’s Department of Environmental Quality to begin the process of implementing regulations to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. Last year, Governor McAuliffe signed an executive directive ordering an investigation of carbon pollution from power plants. Governor McAuliffe promised that “once approved, this regulation will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the Commonwealth’s power plants and give rise to the next generation of energy jobs.”
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a call for comments in accordance with Executive Orders 13771 and 13777 to identify possible regulations that may be outdated, ineffective, or excessively burdensome. HUD stated is currently in the process of establishing a task force responsible for identifying agency regulations that should be repealed, replaced, or modified. As part of this, HUD is seeking public comments to help in identifying those regulations that may be outdated, ineffective, or excessively burdensome.

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK

  • In an editorial, Bloomberg editors praise a new bill passed in Illinois that would regulate the sale of guns. The bill aims to “force greater accountability among gun dealers” by mandating security cameras in firearms stores and by mandating background checks and training for those selling guns. The editors claim that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “lacks the will or resources to properly regulate” sellers of firearms. The editors hold that “states must take the necessary steps to bring order and accountability to the gun shops within their borders.”
  • In an article for the Brookings InstitutionNicol Turner Lee argues that Congress, not the FCC, should identify a solution to the disagreement surrounding net neutrality. Supporters of net neutrality rules, which keeps internet service providers from favoring particular websites, argue that Internet openness is important for free speech. Net neutrality’s opponents believe regulations lead to decreased innovation among internet service providers. Lee suggests that because regulations can change with administrations, Congress is the best-suited entity to ensure a balanced and permanent solution to net neutrality.
  • In an article for Learn LibertyHenry I. Miller and Angela Logomasini argue that federal agencies’ reach extends beyond regulation alone. Miller and Logomasini argue that “regulatory dark matter,” interpretative rules, general statements of policy, and rules of agency organization, procedure and practice, which are not governed by the Administrative Procedure Act,  impose a significant burden on economic growth. Miller  and Logomasini point to the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System, which assesses risks associated with chemicals and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) internal policies around market approval as examples of regulatory dark matter that dissuade innovation.