The Obama Administration is expected to advance major changes to energy and environmental laws in the next four years. There is already a backlog of pending legislation and proposed regulation to work through, and both environmental and industry groups will press for major reforms.
Now that the election is over, EPA is expected to begin moving forward a crowded air docket, including greenhouse gas standards for utilities and refineries, updates to ambient air quality standards for particulate matter and ozone, and several rules that are being rewritten in response to legal challenges. Utilities, refineries, and operators of industrial boilers will all face new requirements specific to their source categories, as well as potential for further constraints due to more stringent, generally applicable ambient air quality standards. Final action on the first of these rules is expected before the end of 2012.
The first Obama administration saw many proposals, but few final actions on new federal regulation of oil and gas production. That pattern appears likely to change in the President’s second administration. The boom in oil and gas production is creating a counter-boom in litigation aimed at stopping or limiting development, and both industry and environmentalists are pressing their case as to the role the federal government should play in an era of greater energy abundance.
Compared with some other items on the Obama Administration’s second term agenda, hazardous waste and chemicals regulation is not as likely to be seen as an area of significant change. That’s a mistake. A number of issues are percolating at or just below the surface of the Administration’s regulatory priorities in this area that may bring significant change over the next four years.Each issue discussed will not necessarily affect every landowner, but the takeaway here is that we could see some significant changes to our federal environmental laws and regulations over the next four years.