Bloomberg Law
Jan. 4, 2023, 9:23 PM

New Biden Rules Agenda Cites Climate Change, Workers, Taxes (1)

Courtney Rozen
Courtney Rozen

President Joe Biden released his next regulatory to-do list on Wednesday, detailing his ambitions to influence industries, institutions and communities through the government’s rulemaking power.

Regulations shoring up climate-change monitoring and clarifying labor rules regarding independent contractors and government workers are on the agenda, as is a pledge for new tax guidance on digital currency and new protections for disabled people.

The list, typically issued twice a year, offers a window into how the administration plans to use 29 cabinet-level departments, executive agencies and federal commissions to advance the president’s priorities. The 2,651 rules on the current list touch on diverse areas ranging from farm loans, child nutrition and seafood inspections to energy standards, whistleblower provisions and international arms regulations.

The Office of Management and Budget, which released the agenda, said it highlights the administration’s efforts to increase its focus on worker health and safety, promote clean air and water, and mitigate the danger of climate change.

“The Administration will also continue to enact a whole-of-government approach to make our communities safer and build a more equitable economy that reduces barriers to opportunity, roots out discrimination, and delivers environmental justice to communities across the nation,” it said in a statement.

The last regulatory agenda was released in June. Though released in January, the start of Biden’s third year in office, this one was titled “Fall 2022.”

Agencies will have to finish a few tasks before the policies take effect, including drafting rules and collecting feedback. The White House regulations office will sign off on each rule before it is published and takes effect. The Senate in December confirmed Richard Revesz, a lawyer who specializes in regulation and climate change, to lead that team.

Among the highlights of the new agenda:

Climate Change

The Securities and Exchange Commission says it hopes to issue climate disclosure regulations by April, six months after it initially planned to release them. The rules would require companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions and make other disclosures about how climate change affects their businesses.

Plans for large companies to disclose emissions from their supply chains have been particularly contentious, with environmentalists and investor advocates mostly in support while Republicans and some companies have raised concerns.

The agency also is preparing to propose, by April, rules that would require companies to report more information about their work forces.

Worker Rules, Classifications

The Labor Department indicated it would release a final rule to clarify when a worker should be classified as an independent contractor or as an employee who is protected under federal wage law.

It also is scheduled to propose updates to its overtime rules—Democrats and labor groups have been pressing to expand workers’ time-and-a-half protections—and to prevailing wage regulations that govern how contractors are paid on federally funded construction projects.

Also of note, the independent US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission failed to publish a regulatory agenda for the fourth time in the past two years. The civil rights agency previously hadn’t missed the requirement since 1994.

The General Services Administration, which manages travel and relocation of federal civilian employees, has proposed a comprehensive update to the Federal Travel Regulation to incorporate gender-inclusive and other equity- and inclusivity-oriented language.

Cleaner Air and Water

Among the higher priority measures for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency are air regulations—including final methane rules, a reconsideration of National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, and Hazardous Air Pollutant emission standards for sterilization plants using ethylene oxide. Regulatory additions to the hydrofluorocarbon phasedown and vehicle emission rules are also on the agenda.

Closely watched greenhouse gas regulations for existing coal-fired power plants are also likely to be announced this year, according to the list.

The EPA plans to publish in February an advance notice of proposed rulemaking—the earliest regulatory step—seeking input on developing future regulations addressing certain PFAS chemicals under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, according to the agenda. That action comes after the agency in 2022 released its proposal to designate as hazardous substances two forms of PFAS—PFOA and PFOS—under what’s known as the Superfund law.

The Energy Department plans to publish three additional actions relating to energy conservation standards and seven actions relating to test procedures. It highlighted a proposed rule governing gas furnaces and mobile home gas furnaces that it says will save as much as $21.6 billion over 30 years.

The GSA also proposed a rule aimed at reducing emissions from federal buildings by requiring federal construction and modernization projects to use methods identified as energy efficient, sustainable, and climate-resilient.

Medicaid Fixes, Protecting the Disabled

The Health and Human Services Department is ramping up efforts to stop discrimination against disabled people by way of a proposed rule scheduled to drop in March. Unlawful discrimination in HHS-funded programs would be addressed in the proposal, which would draw from Office for Civil Rights complaints and examples seen in agency enforcement activities.

Also on deck, for September, is a proposed HHS rule that would create disincentives aimed at health-care providers who interfere with the exchange or sharing of electronic health records.

The administration is also working to finalize a rule that aims to help state Medicaid programs efficiently process beneficiaries’ eligibility, enrollment and renewals. Work on the rule comes as states on April 1 will once again be able to conduct eligibility checks, which could result in millions losing coverage.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration plans to propose a rule to require that manufacturers of human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue-based products submit records or other information upon request by the agency, in advance of or in lieu of an inspection.

Overdrafts, Cryptocurrency and Taxes

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it will decide by November if it will move ahead with new rules governing fees for overdrafts and insufficient funds and the credit reporting industry.

The Treasury Department said it will provide further guidance about cryptocurrency under section 60501 of the Internal Revenue Code. Last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act amended reporting obligations for those who receive in excess of $10,000 (including digital assets) for their business activities. The amended statute is effective for returns required to be filed after Dec. 31, 2023.

Treasury also plans to propose rules on the clean energy credit under Section 48 of the tax code to address new and updated definitions of a qualifying energy property. It also pledged to draft rules aimed at reining in so-called “Killer B” triangular reorganizations that involve foreign corporations and that the government said have been used in the past to avoid taxes.

Also in the works are final IRS rules on basis consistency between an estate and a taxpayer obtaining property from a decedent, and final rules that put limits on when large gifts are eligible for the higher basic exclusion amount in the 2017 tax law.

(Updates with additional proposed rules from Treasury, HHS, GSA and CFPB.)

—Rebecca Rainey, Bruce Rolfsen, Austin Ramsey, J. Edward Moreno, Andrew Ramonas, David Jolly, Daniel Moore, Pat Rizzuto, Dean Scott, Jenny Hijazi, Lauren Vella, Isabel Gottlieb, Michael Rapoport, Naomi Jagoda, Ganny Belloni, Celine Castronovo, Amanda H. Allen and Ian Lopez contributed to this story.

To contact the reporter on this story: Courtney Rozen in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bernie Kohn at and John P. Martin at