Biden pushes a slew of rules on the environment, other priorities

WASHINGTON — As he tries to secure his legacy, President Joe Biden has unleashed a flurry of election year rules on the environment and other topics, including a landmark regulation that would force coal-fired power plants to capture smokestack emissions or shut down.

The limits on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fueled electric stations are the Democratic president’s most ambitious effort yet to roll back planet-warming pollution from the power sector, the nation’s second-largest contributor to climate change.

The power plant rule is among more than 60 regulations Biden and his administration finalized last month to meet his policy goals, including a promise to cut carbon emissions that are driving climate change roughly in half by 2030. The regulations, led by the Environmental Protection Agency but involving a host of other federal agencies, are being issued in quick succession as the Biden administration rushes to meet a looming but uncertain deadline to ensure they are not overturned by a new Congress — or a new president.

“The Biden administration is in green blitz mode,” said Lena Moffitt, executive director of the activist group Evergreen Action.

It’s not just

the environment

The barrage of rules covers more than the environment.

With the clock ticking toward Election Day, Biden’s administration has issued or proposed rules on a wide range of issues, from student loan forgiveness and affordable housing to overtime pay, health and compensation for airline passengers who are unreasonably delayed, as he tries to woo voters in his reelection bid against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

In all, federal agencies broke records by publishing 66 significant final rules in April, higher than any month in Biden’s presidency, according to George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center. More than half the rules — 34 — were considered likely to have an economic impact of at least $200 million, the center said.

That tally is by far the highest issued by a recent president in a single month, the center said. The next closest was 20 such rules issued by Trump in his final month in office.

Biden is not shying away from promoting the rules. For example, he went to Madison, Wisconsin, to promote his actions on student loan relief after the Supreme Court rejected his initial plan. More often, Cabinet officials are being dispatched around the country, often to the swing states, to promote the administration’s actions.

The problem with rules

Policies created by rulemaking are easier to reverse than laws when a new administration takes office, especially with a sharply divided Congress.

“There’s no time to start like today,” Biden said on his first day in office as he moved to dismantle the Trump legacy.

Over the course of his presidency, Biden has reinstated protections for threatened species that were rolled back by Trump. He also has boosted fuel efficiency standards, reversing the former president.

The Education Department’s gainful employment rule targets college programs that leave graduates with high debt compared to their expected earnings. And the Department of Housing and Urban Development moved to restore a rule that was designed to eliminate racial disparities in suburbs and thrown out by Trump.


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