With President Obama determined to leave his mark through regulations, administration officials are trying to finalize as many health and consumer safety protections as possible before his term runs out.
Waters of the U.S.: The EPA is going have to have a busy year in 2015. The agency is working to define “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act in a final rule that is scheduled to be released in April.
The rule would cover streams and rivers that flow into larger bodies of water already protected under the Clean Water Act. In October, EPA extended the public comment for the second time to Nov. 14.
Opponents say the administration is trying to regulate puddles in a massive “land grab,” while environmentalists applaud the agency as creating cleaner waterways.
Efforts to mitigate pollution in streams and wetlands could cost anywhere from $162 million to $278 million annually, but the administration says the benefits of reduced flooding and filtering pollution outweigh the cost.
Power plants: The EPA is also planning to set new limits for existing fossil fuel burning power plants by July.
The rule aims to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, a target that industry groups and GOP lawmakers argue will wipe out the coal industry altogether.
While the EPA is also expected to release standards for new fossil-fueled electric power plants next year, Ronald White, director of regulatory policy at the Center for Effective Government, said the rule for existing power plants is the one getting all the attention.
“No one is expecting coal fired electronic utility power plants in the foreseeable future,” he said.
ATVs and off-road vehicles: The Consumer Product Safety Commission (DPSC) is expected to release new safety standards for all-terrain vehicles and recreational off-road vehicles next year.
The vehicles have been known to roll over and seriously injure or kill the person riding them. In an effort to make them safer, the CPSC rules aim to keep passengers off ATVs with warning labels and require lateral stability measures and speed controls to be installed on recreational off-road vehicles.