The Regulatory Week in Review: August 26, 2011

In response to President Obama's executive order on regulatory reform, federal agencies released their final plans for cutting burdensome regulations, unveiling hundreds of changes that are estimated to save billions of dollars. Criticism of the regulatory reform plans ranged from describing the administration's cost-cutting as a "regulatory bait-and-switch" in which no real savings were achieved, to faulting the government for "under regulat[ing]" industry and not providing agencies with enough resources. The Department of Transportation's (DOT) Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections rule went into effect, expanding its tarmac-delay rules, requiring greater transparency in fees, and increasing compensation paid to consumers bumped from flights. More protections relating to baggage and booking fees go into effect January 2012. As part of the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a web-based program which is the required portal through which large industrial greenhouse gas emitters must submit their 2010 greenhouse gas pollution data electronically. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection issued emergency rules to regulate fracking in the state until lawmakers can act, in response to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's executive order of July 2011. The new rules deal largely with water use and management and certification of site construction and sediment control plans. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie issued a conditional veto of legislation that would permanently ban fracking in the state, calling instead for a one-year moratorium while further study is completed by state and federal agencies. See related RegBlog post. As part of the Open Government Partnership, the IBM Center for the Business of Government released a report describing best practices for soliciting and using public participation in government, singling out the EPA, DOT, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as role models in seeking to improve public participation. The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey held that the public's common-law right of access to government documents may be more expansive than the state's freedom of information statute. See related RegBlog post. Federal Trade Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch reportedly said the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is not ready to endorse "do-not-track" regulations for online advertisers who create targeted ads for users based on their browsing history, but suggested that the FTC should continue to study the issue. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Botox injections for treating loss of bladder control in patients with neurological issues.

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