The federal government has published agendas of its regulatory and deregulatory activities since 1978. Today, twice a year, agencies and departments ranging from the Agriculture Department to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission publish a list of potential and final rules they intend to release in the coming year. On June 12, 2023, the Biden administration released the Spring 2023 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. The regulatory agenda includes 2,617 entries, of which 1,472 are in the proposed rule stage, 113 have pre-rule status and 1,031 are in the final stage of rulemaking.

Businesses should see the agenda as a list of what the government has in store for the regulated community and a preview of what actions from Washington, D.C. may impact their daily operations. Let’s review a few of the highlights, starting with the Department of Labor and its 71 pending rules.

The National Labor Relations Board revealed that it would issue a final rule in August to determine whether two employers, such as a temporary or staffing agency and manufacturer, are a joint employer for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its part is no slouch with 147 pending regulatory actions listed, including 51 in the final rule stage. The EPA has a broad reach throughout the economy, and many Biden administration personnel are seasoned officials who served previous Democratic presidents.

In October, the EPA will reconsider the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter (PM) in an effort to reverse a Trump-era relaxed regulation. PM is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air (such as dust, dirt, soot or smoke) and smaller sources only detected using an electron microscope. The other major source of emissions regulations for industry is the NAAQS for Ozone, for which a final rule is scheduled for April 2024. Tying this all together is the EPA’s final rule expected in September rescinding the Benefit Cost Analysis put in place under the previous administration. A revision will allow the EPA to justify implementing broader rules across the economy, especially when combined with the social cost of carbon, a dollar amount assigned to emissions.

The EPA is in the midst of issuing several rules by year-end to either restrict the use or eliminate en-tirely from the manufacturing environment multiple chemicals and solvents, including PFAS, PFOA, perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, methylene chloride and 1-Bromopropane, among others. Another regulation coming from the EPA in September seeks to expand the agency’s authority over inland waterways, including man-made cooling ponds and other non-contiguous bodies of water. The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the original proposal that could have placed up to 60% of the country’s streams under the EPA’s jurisdiction.

In other regulatory action, while not released as of this writing, the Defense Department was slated in July 2023 to take final action to implement the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-171 DoD Assessment Methodology to protect against the theft of intellectual property and sensitive information from the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) sector. The NIST-800 includes major requirements on contractors working with the federal government that is now appearing in commercial contracts.

Through the July 4 holiday week, the federal government had issued 1,547 final rules, and proposed another 1,073, while filling 43,356 pages with rules, regulations and notices. If this spring’s regulatory agenda is any indication of what is to come, expect many more pages filled and to prepare your company for the changes coming to your businesses.

The Franklin Partnership
Omar S. Nashashibi
Founding Partner