The Regulatory Week in Review: September 2, 2011

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to block AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. See related RegBlog post. Even before their exchange of letters over the timing of President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress next week, House Speaker House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) exchanged letters over regulations. In a letter sent to the White House last Friday, Speaker Boehner repeated a request he made last year that the administration identify all proposed regulations that would have an annual economic impact of more than $1 billion. President Obama replied this Tuesday, reporting that his administration has currently underway seven rules that if finalized could impose over $1 billion in annual costs each – for a possible total of $37-$109 billion in annual costs. Boehner responded that the administration's plans are "misguided" during a sluggish economy. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) outlined the House GOP's upcoming agenda in a memo on Monday. The memo explained Republican legislative plans to seek repeal of a series of regulations described as "job-destroying." Consumer group Public Citizen argued in a petition that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should revise its drug labeling regulations to permit drug manufacturers to update warning labels on generic drugs. Currently, generic drug manufacturers may only imprint the same labels as the name-brand drugs. French Prime Minister François Fillon called for stronger international safety checks on nuclear energy in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, arguing for international cooperation in creating an emergency task force to address nuclear incidents. Later in the week, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a call for public comment on requirements for new assessments of reactors' exposure to earthquake risk. The State Department issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline extension, concluding that the project will not have significant impacts on most of the natural resources along the pipeline's corridor. The project, which has been the subject of recent protests by environmentalists in front of the White House, still requires additional approval before going forward and could eventually receive review by the courts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster relief funds were reported to be running low. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that safety laxity at PG&E as well as a lack of monitoring by regulators led to undetected weaknesses in pipeline welds and eventually the September 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion. Australian antitrust regulators said that the plan by Telstra Corporation — Australia's largest phone company — to split the dominant phone company should be altered to ensure rival companies get fair access to its network. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted in favor of seeking public input for potential rules on the use of derivatives by mutual funds and other investment entities regulated by the Investment Company Act of 1940. The Department of Labor (DOL) proposed stricter age requirements for farm workers in certain tasks. The proposed rules would lengthen the list of jobs for which workers need to be 16 or older.

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