The Biden Administration announces electric vehicle actions, the Energy Department announces energy standards for household appliances, and more…
IN THE NEWS
- The Biden Administration announced multi-agency actions to build a “convenient, reliable and Made-in-America electric vehicle (EV) charging network.” The U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Energy issued a joint final rule establishing minimum standards for the construction of public, federally funded EV charging stations. In addition, the Federal Highway Administration issued a notice under the Build America, Buy America Act that requires manufacturers to build all of their federally funded EV chargers in the United States. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated that these actions represent a “major step toward a world where every EV user will be able to find safe, reliable charging stations anywhere in the country.”
- The Energy Department also announced energy conservation standards for refrigerators and washing machines. The agency noted that the previous standards have not changed in over a decade and expects the new standards to save consumers in the United States almost $3.5 billion per year in utility costs. In addition, the agency expects the standards to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 233 million metric tons over the next three decades.
- The Social Security Administration proposed a rule that would remove expenditures on food from monthly benefits calculations for individuals receiving social security insurance. In its proposal, the Administration called for no longer counting food assistance as income that reduces the payments that beneficiaries receive from the program. Instead, this rule would ensure that adults over the age of 65 and individuals living with disabilities do not see reductions in their Social Security benefits whenever they receive food assistance payments or contributions. The Administration noted that no longer including food assistance in social security insurance determinations would save the Administration time and resources and promote equity for vulnerable communities.
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finalized a rule that improves the continuity of emergency response services during 911 outages. The FCC explained that during outages, special 911 call centers inform the public about the outage and how to contact emergency services. The new rule requires providers of 911 services to maintain up-to-date information about the special 911 call centers in the areas that they serve.. FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel noted that the rule comes in response to a nationwide 911 outage in the summer of 2020 when 23,000 people failed to reach 911 call centers during the outage.
- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed changes to its implementation of the Privacy Act. The Privacy Act governs how the federal government handles personal information. The proposed changes would reflect updates in technology and clarify how the public can access personal records that the SEC maintains, said SEC Chair Gary Gensler. The changes would codify a 90-day period for the public to appeal the SEC’s denial of a Privacy Act request and delete provisions that changes in the technology the SEC uses to process requests have rendered obsolete.
- The SEC also proposed a rule that would protect financial assets that investment advisers manage for clients. Currently, the SEC requires advisers to safeguard only securities and client funds in the adviser’s possession. The proposed rule, however, would cover all client assets, rather than just client funds and securities, which would enhance protections for assets such as cryptocurrencies. The rule would also require advisers to clients investing in cryptocurrencies to abide by certain safekeeping requirements. The SEC recognized that “significant developments with respect to crypto assets” have increased risks to investors and advisers.
- The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued guidance that establishes criteria for determining whether a group can organize as a federally recognized tribe under the Alaska Indian Reorganization Act. To become a federally recognized tribe under the Act, a group must submit a petition to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. The guidance provides criteria—including a common bond, shared descent, and a political structure—that the assistant secretary should use to evaluate the petition and make this determination. In developing the new guidance, the bureau considered the “unique conditions in Alaska” to develop the criteria for becoming a federally recognized tribe, including its history, culture, and geographic location within the state.
- The U.S. Administration for Children and Families proposed a rule that would allow local agencies supervising foster child placements to ease licensing requirements for relatives caring for foster children. Local agencies prefer to place foster children with their relatives, but many relatives take foster children in emergency situations and do not have the resources to become licensed. Furthermore, although many local agencies do not require relatives to become licensed to care for the child, only licensed homes receive full financial assistance, so there are many foster children who live in homes without full funding. The proposed rule would remove licensing requirements that do not impact the child’s wellbeing, such as English proficiency, for relatives of foster children to ensure that more foster families receive full financial assistance.
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- In a Center for American Progress report, analyst Kierra B. Jones argued that states should allow pharmacists to dispense and prescribe contraceptives to increase access to health care and decrease unwanted pregnancies. Jones claimed that residents of states that have already allowed pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives enjoy cheap, convenient, and dependable access. Although states may face barriers to implementing this authority, such as training costs and confidentiality concerns, expanding pharmacists’ authority to prescribe would improve the health care system around family planning and promote public health, according to Jones.
- In a Harvard Law & Policy Review article, Kurt Walters, then a judicial law clerk, called for a return of consumer protection rulemaking by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Walters explained that the FTC has seldom issued rules concerning consumer protection in the past four decades, but a majority of FTC commissioners now support resuming this type of regulatory action. Walters argued that it is a “myth” that procedural requirements made the FTC’s consumer protection rulemaking burdensome. Rather, Walters contended that this category of rulemaking dwindled in the wake of a general decline in the FTC’s regulatory activity, not because of any particular procedural issues. He concluded that the FTC’s revival of consumer protection rulemaking would “return a powerful tool to the agency’s arsenal.”
- In a Brookings Institution report, Adie Tomer, Caroline George, and Joseph W. Kane, all of the Brookings Institution, outlined strategies for public officials, practitioners, and analysts to use in implementing federal infrastructure funding. Tomer, George, and Kane noted that Congress allocated $1.25 trillion to infrastructure priorities, highlighting that most of the funding is still unspent. They urged those implementing the funds to rank their funding priorities before the money expires, prepare for changing economic conditions, and focus on recruiting and retaining new talent.
- In a 2014 essay in The Regulatory Review, Shari Shapiro, then research affiliate with the Penn Program on Regulation, argued that efforts to make building codes more energy efficient hold lessons for enacting all types of controversial regulation. She argued, for example, that allowing for local experimentation and building strong coalitions are essential to overcoming opposition. Shapiro also noted that opposition to regulation based on cost concerns shows the need for advocates to find creative ways to advance their goals.