Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hold on Pending Rules

I mentioned in an earlier blog today that I had heard that President Obama had issued an Executive Order putting a hold on all rule making processes pending a review by the new administration. Well, according to a brief AP article on it was not an Executive Order but a memo signed by Rahm Emanuel, the new president’s Chief of Staff. It was also apparently covered in “the first press release sent out by Obama's White House”, but I haven’t been able to find a copy of either the memo or press release. In any case, this is not an unusual move by a new administration; especially when there is a change in party as well. This would typically only effect rules that had not yet had the ‘final rule’ published in the Federal Register. I do not believe that it would have any effect on rules that have been published but still have effective dates pending. For example this would certainly affect the pending rule on Ammonium Nitrate but should not affect the Rail Security Rule that was published in November but has a partial effective date of April 1st, 2009. What is not clear at all is the effect of this ‘moratorium’ on guidance documents like the Risk-Based Performance Standards that was released as a draft last fall with the expected final document hopefully appearing some time early this year. I would expect that Secretary Napolitano will want to have her people review that document (and the comments received by industry) before they publish the final document, but that may not have been explicitly addressed in Emanuel’s memo.

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