Thanks to the “take care” clause in our Constitution, our Presidents have exercised varying degrees of authority to enforce laws and implement executive branch policies through Executive Orders. While many an order has incited political and legal controversy for taking over Congress’s role, some orders stick to their original purposes (also heavily debated)— to give direction to agencies overseen by the Administration and generally manage the federal government’s operations.
To date, President Obama has signed 101 into law (for comparison, our former President signed 291 over his two terms). On Jan. 18, President Obama signed Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.” This was followed by Order 13579 on July 11, extending the mandates of the earlier order to independent regulatory agencies and commissions. These orders call on agencies to issue public plans for a periodic “look-back,” or retrospective analysis, of their existing “significant regulations.”
Here’s why this is very important for any federally regulated industry: over the past few months, agencies have been releasing plans to overhaul their regulations, significantly broader than what the orders call for. This includes FERC and EPA, key agencies regulating the natural gas industry.
For example, EPA is only statutorily required to conduct two regulatory reviews, but they are doing 35 in the initial review period. FERC only has a few “significant” regulations as defined by Order 13579, but the commission plans a comprehensive overview of regulations affecting gas, electric and renewables. You can see agencies’ retrospective review plans by browsing the regulations.gov website or going to their individual websites.