By Sharon Block, Associate Administrator, OIRA
This Administration is using every lever at its disposal – including regulatory action – to deliver on the President’s priorities, including containing the pandemic, driving a durable economic recovery, advancing equity, and combating climate change.
Since the President took office, we’ve worked to slow the spread of COVID-19 through mask-wearing on public transportation and transportation hubs, and through vaccination. We’ve taken steps to advance equity in the housing market by requiring local governments, public housing authorities and others who receive Federal funds to take meaningful actions to stop patterns of segregation and help create more inclusive communities. We’re tackling the climate crisis through protections like limiting methane emissions and other health-harming air pollutants that endanger communities. We’re supporting small businesses by making it easier to get small loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program. And we’ve done it all while powering a historic economic and jobs recovery, with six million jobs created in the first ten full months of this Administration—a record for a new president.
To continue building on this progress, today we’re releasing the Unified Regulatory Agenda and Regulatory Plan, which outlines the new regulatory actions Federal agencies intend to take over the coming months to continue protecting public health, creating a stronger and fairer economy, addressing climate change, and advancing equity. The regulatory plans and agendas submitted by agencies and released today offer blueprints for how the Administration will continue delivering on President Biden’s agenda as we build back better for everyone. This agenda is fully consistent with the priorities outlined by the President as reflected in his executive orders and our previous regulatory agenda.
Actions that agencies are considering as part of today’s announcement include:
- Uncovering Hidden Airline Service Fees. The Department of Transportation plans to better protect consumers and improve competition by ensuring that consumers have ancillary fee information, including baggage fees, change fees, and cancellation fees at the time of ticket purchase. The Department also intends to examine whether fees for certain ancillary services should be disclosed at the first point in a search process where a fare is listed.
- Stopping Super-Pollutants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is implementing the bipartisan, job-creating American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020, and is considering restricting – fully, partially, or on a graduated schedule – the use of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in sectors or subsectors including the refrigeration, air conditioning, aerosol, and foam sectors. EPA is taking this action in response to petition from a wide range of stakeholders, including industry and environmental groups. HFCs are potent greenhouse gases found in a range of appliances and substances, including refrigerators, air conditioners and foams, and have an impact on warming our climate that is hundreds to thousands of times greater than the same amount of carbon dioxide. These actions will enhance the competitiveness of domestic industries.
- Transitioning Toward Zero-Emission Technologies. The EPA will consider long-term options to strengthen greenhouse gas emission standards for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, including options to encourage automakers to transition to zero-emission technologies. If implemented, the new standards would save consumers money, cut pollution, boost public health, advance environmental justice, reestablish American leadership on innovative transportation technologies, and tackle the climate crisis.
- Improving Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment. The Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Treasury are considering changes to clarify health insurance plans’ and issuers’ obligations to provide mental health and substance use treatment in parity with medical and surgical treatment. The Departments will take into account new legislative enactments and experience implementing the MHPAEA law since its enactment in 2010.
- Increasing Access for People with Disabilities. As part of the Administration’s commitment to equity, the Department of Justice is exploring a new rule to ensure that individuals with disabilities can use sidewalks and other pedestrian facilities.
Between this regulatory agenda and the next one in spring 2022, agencies will also be developing plans for implementing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), historic legislation to rebuild crumbling infrastructure, create good paying jobs, and grow our economy.
In the coming months, we look forward to continued engagement with Congress, the public, and other stakeholders to translate these regulatory plans into action to continue delivering results for the American people. Public engagement can only make our work better and more responsive to what families and communities most need.
Sharon Block is Associate Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.