Biden Administration Advances Overhaul of Regulatory Review Processes

On April 6, 2023, President Joe Biden signed an executive order (EO), “Modernizing Regulatory Review,” amending President Bill Clinton’s EO 12866, which has served as the foundation for regulatory review and analysis across administrations for nearly 30 years. The following day, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued several related actions. These included proposed revisions to guidelines for benefit-cost analysis and processes for public participation in the regulatory review process.


Biden Administration Issues Executive Order on Sustainable Procurement

On December 8, 2021, the Biden Administration issued an executive order seeking to leverage United States procurement power to promote investment in clean energy. The order sets out the following five goals: “100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE) by 2030, at least half of which will be locally supplied clean energy to meet 24/7 demand; 100 percent zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027; [n]et-zero emissions from federal procurement no later than 2050, including a Buy Clean policy to promote use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions; [a] net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, including a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2032; and [n]et-zero emissions from overall federal operations by 2050, including a 65 percent emissions reduction by 2030.” (more…)

DOJ Environment and Natural Resources Division Withdraws Nine Guidance Documents From Trump Administration

Earlier this month, the Acting Assistant Attorney General supervising the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a memorandum rescinding nine policy or guidance documents issued for ENRD over the past three years. The documents generally concerned enforcement priorities and discretion and payments to third parties as part of settlements. The memorandum cites Executive Order 13,990, signed by President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021, which directs agencies to review agency agencies that may conflict with a range of environmental goals.


Trump Administration’s Science Transparency Rule Vacated

On Monday, February 1, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana vacated the Trump administration’s Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information rule. Published on January 5 and effective immediately, the rule established procedures for how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would consider dose-response data underlying science used in its significant regulatory actions and influential scientific information. Opponents challenged the rule, arguing it would “cripple the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect public health and the environment by fundamentally transforming the ways in which the agency may consider and rely on scientific evidence.” The vacatur follows a January 27 order suspending the rule because the court found EPA failed to justify why it made the rule effective immediately and questioned “whether EPA retains any legal basis to promulgate the Final Rule.” Following the order, EPA moved to vacate the rule, arguing that the previous administration lacked authority to issue it.


Biden Executive Order Implements Sweeping Climate Change Policy; Industry Group Challenges Pause on New Oil and Gas Leases

As Sidley previously reported, President Joe Biden issued an executive order (EO) on January 27 stating that “climate considerations shall be an essential element of United States foreign policy and national security.” The EO places environmental justice at the center of the wide-reaching climate plan, which creates a number of new positions and task forces intended to ensure climate change is being addressed by all parts of the federal government.