U.S. EPA's Regulatory and Deregulatory Outlook

WOTUS, Lead Paint, Stormwater, Ozone, Aerosol Cans and More
The Trump administration’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) released new details on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory and deregulatory actions in the months ahead. The Spring 2017 update to the Unified Agenda shows that EPA has approximately 160 regulations currently in the works – a notable reduction from the end of the Obama administration.  EPA has withdrawn some rulemakings that were in the pipeline in late 2016; others have been slowed for “further careful review.”  Overall, EPA staff is working on substantially fewer proposed rules at this time compared to the last few years. 

AGC has carefully reviewed EPA’s updated list of regulatory actions (near and long-term) and considered the potential impact on the construction industry.  Notable highlights include EPA’s end-of-the-year target to propose a new rule on the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, the delayed schedule for determining whether or not to propose lead paint “work practice” rules for public and commercial buildings (moved to EPA’s long-term list), and the official statement that the agency is no longer pursuing stormwater regulations governing post-construction discharges (marked as “completed action”).  EPA also has delayed air quality designations and nonattainment area classifications for the 2015 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), as previously reported by AGC.

In addition, on the cost-savings side, EPA is looking to propose a rule that would add aerosol cans to the “universal waste” regulations and  finalize a rule to get one step closer to establishing a national e-Manifest system.  The agency also is continuing its review of the 2008 Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RRP) rules to explore amendments that would minimize adverse impacts to small businesses.     

Regulatory Planning and Review

In a March 2017 memo, OIRA instructed executive agencies to give careful attention to the principles and requirements identified in President Trump’s Executive Order (EO) 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” That order requires agencies to “identify” for elimination at least two existing rules before issuing any new “economically significant” rules, with a condition that for the remainder of this fiscal year, new regulatory costs must not exceed “zero.” Agencies were also asked to provide a preliminary estimate of total costs and savings associated with each planned regulatory action for 2018.  In addition, EO 13777 “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda” directs federal agency heads to designate Regulatory Reform Officers and Task Forces and to identify rules for repeal, replacement or modification.  AGC provided 30-pages of comprehensive and detailed recommendations for EPA’s regulatory evaluation, in response to the agency’s call for public input. 

Note: EPA must still issue – or keep – regulations as required by statute and the agency cannot repeal prior regulation, except in accordance with that law or the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).  

Overall, the Trump administration has slowed the federal regulatory machine. In the first five months of 2017, the administration’s regulatory efforts produced quantifiable annualized cost savings estimated at $22 million, compared to $6.8 billion in annualized costs due to rules finalized during last five months of fiscal year 2016.  For more details, read AGC’s 2017 Regulatory Road Ahead.

For more information, please contact AGC’s Leah Pilconis at

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