Welcome to our new blog, "The Watchdog," which will keep a close eye on regulatory agencies and how their actions impact the lives of everyday Americans. Though the rules and regulations they write -- from determining how much arsenic is allowable in your drinking water to whether your favorite TV show can drop the F-bomb in primetime -- affect all of us, their deliberations and the way that lobbyists influence their decisions receives very little coverage.
To make sense of these debates, follow the implementation of health care reform and financial reform and decipher the minutia of the Federal Register, "The Watchdog" is on the case. If you have any tips or suggestions, send them to email@example.com.
02/04/2011 5:54 PM EST
Hit List Of Regulations Gets Longer - Another Letter To Issa
More letters keep arriving in response to Rep. Darrel Issa's request that industry groups provide him with a list of harmful regulations.
The latest is from the Petroleum Marketers Association of America. On their list of burdensome regulations:- EPA's ethanol fuel mandate
- More stringent air quality standards for ground-level ozone
- Requirement that gas stations install vapor recovery equipment
- DOT proposal to reduce the number of hours that commercial truck drivers have to spend behind the wheel
- Proposal to reduce emissions from commercial and industrial boilers
- Dodd-Frank provision to reduce debit card interchange fees (the fees that retailers have to pay debit card issuers per transaction)
- DOT proposal to require that trucks hauling gasoline make adjustments to protect external fuel lines from rupturing
- New Americans With Disability Act rules, which require gas stations to make adjustments to accomodate disabled Americans
- Interior Department decision to delay offshore oil and gas drilling
02/04/2011 3:33 PM EST
Industry Groups Ramp Up Lobbying To Combat New Regulations
Industry groups are spending record sums on lobbying to knock back government proposals to tighten regulations of their consumer practices, reports USA Today.
One of the most dramatic examples is the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, which spent $440,000 on lobbying during the last three months of 2010, more than twice the amount it spent during all of 2009. The lobby group is fighting proposed regulations that would stop giving federal aid to these for-profit colleges if too many of their students default on loans.
Among the recipients: Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of House education panel and an opponent of the Obama administration's proposed rules. The PAC gave $15,000 to Kline's fundraising committees in the 2010 election. Democratic lawmakers, including some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, also have opposed the rules.
Kline and nine other House members last year wrote to Education Secretary Arne Duncan objecting to many of the new rules.
Kline spokesman Brian Newell said campaign contributions have no bearing on the congressman's actions. "My boss has been a long-time proponent of student choice," he said. The proposed regulations will drive for-profit colleges out of business, Newell said, when "there's a need in our country to have young adults more equipped and able to compete in our workforce."
02/04/2011 12:05 PM EST
California Power Plant Gets First Exemption From GHG Regs
This year, the EPA began enforcing new rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions from new or expanded power plants -- and this week, the agency issued its first exemption.
The exemption was granted to Avenal Power Center, a proposed 600-megawatt power plant in California's San Joaquin Valley, which will not have to comply with new air quality standards for smog-forming nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Though the Washington Examiner makes much of the fact that Avenal uses two gas turbines made by General Electric, whose chairman Jeffrey Immelt was just named by President Barack Obama to head up his board of outside economic advisers, the plant is owned by Macquarie Energy, a Texas-based developer.
02/04/2011 11:52 AM EST
The Wake-Up Call: How Much Pesticide Residue Is Allowable On Food?
- If you've got a strong stomach, go check out these petitions filed today by pesticide manufacturers, asking the Environmental Protection Agency to modify regulations governing the amount of pesticide residue allowed on different foods and grains.
- Report: Regulations "urgently needed" as mining companies eye sea floor
- The Chamber of Commerce wants to expand Obama's reg review to include independent agencies such as the NRC, CFTC, CPSC, FCC, FDIC, SEC and several others.
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil and electricity, exposes five companies for alleged rules violations -- and industry groups are upset that the agency is disclosing these investigations at an earlier-than-usual stage in the process.