Agency Rulemaking Highlights
Affirming the Appropriate and Necessary Finding
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is revoking a May 2020 finding that it is not necessary to regulate coal- and oil-fired electric utility steam generating units (EGUs) under the Clean Air Act. EPA now concludes, as it did in 2016, that regulating hazardous air pollutant emissions from EGUs is appropriate and necessary after considering cost. Effective March 6.
Stronger Limits on Water Pollution from Power Plants
EPA is proposing strengthened limits on wastewater pollution discharged from power plants. EPA is also proposing changes to specific compliance paths for certain “subcategories” of power plants, which would retain and refresh a compliance path for coal-fired power plants that commit to stop burning coal by 2028. The agency is issuing a direct final rule and parallel proposal to allow power plants to opt into this compliance path. Additionally, power plants that are in the process of complying with existing regulations and plan to stop burning coal by 2032, would be able to comply with the proposed rule.
Made In the USA Food Labels
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) posted a pre-publication draft proposal seeking to better align the voluntary “Product of USA” label claim with consumer understanding of what the claim means. The proposed rule allows the voluntary “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” label claim to be used on meat, poultry and egg products only when they are derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States. Comments due 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.
Increased 40-Year Term for Loan Modifications
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a final rule increasing—from 30 years to 40 years—the maximum term allowed for a mortgagee to modify a federally insured mortgage to cure a borrower’s default. Increasing the maximum term will allow mortgagees to further reduce the borrower's monthly payment as the outstanding balance would be spread over a longer time frame, providing more borrowers the opportunity to retain their homes after default. Effective May 8.
Energy Conservation Standards for Residential Clothes Washers
The Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing to amend energy conservation standards for residential clothes washers. The Department also announces a virtual public hearing on these proposed standards and associated analyses to be held March 28. Comments due May 2.
Adding COVID to List of Select Agents and Toxins
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a final rule updating its list of select agents and toxins regulations with the addition of SARS-CoV/SARS-CoV-2 chimeric viruses resulting from any deliberate manipulation of SARS-CoV-2 to incorporate nucleic acids coding for SARS-CoV virulence factors. With this final rule, regulated entities are required to obtain prior approval from CDC to conduct deliberate manipulation of SARS-CoV-2 because these chimeric viruses have the potential to pose a severe threat to public health and safety. Effective March 3.
Hearings on Airline Ticket Refunds, Service Fees
The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced virtual public hearings on issues related to its Notices of Proposed Rulemaking on Airline Ticket Refunds and Consumer Protections (March 14) and Enhancing Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees (March 16).