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Factbox-Biden administration races to safeguard environmental rules from congressional axe

Published 04/23/2024, 05:53 PM
Updated 04/24/2024, 11:32 AM
© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks to commemorate Earth Day during a visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, U.S., April 22, 2024.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File photo

(Reuters) - The Biden administration is racing to finalize a slew of major environmental regulations to help safeguard them from potential reversal should former President Donald Trump win the 2024 presidential election.

Agency rules completed and in the Federal Register before May 22, 2024 will not be subject to the Congressional Review Act, a law that enables a new Congress to nullify recently enacted regulations with a simple majority.

Over the last few weeks, the Biden administration has announced a steady stream of final rules to carry out some of its most ambitious plans like spurring adoption of electric vehicles and protecting public lands for conservation.

In the coming days, agencies will push out other key regulations, intended to help carry out the administration's goal to decarbonize the U.S. economy by 2050.

Here are some of them:

POWER PLANTS, MERCURY

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected on Thursday to unveil its final rule to slash carbon emissions from power plants, a major source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The rule has been narrowed down to focus just on existing coal and new gas plants and is also expected to drop the use of hydrogen as a means of complying with the new standards - moves that could reduce the risk of litigation.

The agency is also expected to roll out final rules that will strengthen standards for wastewater discharges from industrial facilities, hazardous air toxics and mercury from power plants and managing toxic coal ash discharged from power plants.

The agency is not expected to complete work on developing a methane fee for oil and gas producers, which was required by the Inflation Reduction Act and proposed in January.

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS

The Council on Environmental Quality is expected to finalize its "Phase 2" National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), part of the Biden administration's undoing of Trump-era changes to the federal law that requires federal environmental reviews for major infrastructure projects.

NEPA 2 is expected to contain environmental mitigation requirements for projects and environmental justice protections.

OFFSHORE WIND LEASING

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will finalize new regulations for offshore wind developments as early as this week. Offshore wind power is seen as key to helping decarbonize the power sector. The reforms will establish a five-year public leasing schedule and reduce costs to developers by eliminating requirements for meteorological buoys, deferring some survey requirements until a project is approved and allowing incremental funding of decommissioning accounts over the life of a facility.

© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks to commemorate Earth Day during a visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, U.S., April 22, 2024.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File photo

EFFICIENT APPLIANCES

The Energy Department may seek to finalize its appliance efficiency standards for furnaces, stoves and washing machines - measures that could reduce emissions by cutting back on energy consumption.

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