The White House on Wednesday afternoon released its latest plans for rulemaking on energy, the environment and beyond.
The fall Unified Agenda emerged roughly two months behind schedule at a time when President Joe Biden faces intense pressure from his base to deliver on critical climate and environmental regulations.
The White House Office of Management and Budget said the agenda “advances the Administration’s ambitious climate and clean energy agenda with ongoing efforts to promote clean air and clean water, improve energy security and efficiency, and help mitigate the dangers of climate change.”
But the administration has already missed deadlines on power plant and toxics rules, and has faced criticism for delays on its final methane emissions standards for oil and gas (Climatewire, Jan. 4).
The agenda says EPA’s planned carbon proposals for new and existing fossil fuel power plants have slipped from March to April. The agency now plans to finalize the rules by June 2024.
James Goodwin, a regulatory analyst at the Center for Progressive Reform, called that a “shocking lack of ambition” on what should be a signature Biden policy.
Similarly, EPA officials are acknowledging that they won’t make their self-imposed spring target for issuing the final version of stronger national particulate matter standards. The new deadline is August.
Also delayed is a final rule for reviving the legal foundation for curbs on emissions of mercury and other air toxics from coal-fired power plants, which is now scheduled for release in March.
At the Interior Department, BLM is looking to finalize proposed regulations on methane waste prevention in the federal oil patch by late fall. The proposal released last November included increased monitoring for leaks and limits on how much gas can be flared because of lacking pipeline capacity to carry that gas to market.
In another closely watched action, the Fish and Wildlife Service says it expects to release a proposed permit system in March to allow otherwise prohibited take of migratory birds. Wind power and other energy interests have been weighing in with ideas.
More broadly, Goodwin noted, only 154 regulations have been completed since the spring regulatory agenda was released last June.
“The administration needs to pick up the pace if it’s going to complete the big rules it is currently working on,” he said.
Conservatives blasted what they called Biden’s “top-down” approach.
“The big takeaway from this I would say is that Joe Biden is returning economically significant regulations to pre-Trump heights of Obama and Bush plus going beyond,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute fellow Wayne Crews.
Reporters Michael Doyle, Jean Chemnick, Heather Richards and Sean Reilly contributed.