SPECIAL REPORT: Obama puts hold on 11th-hour regs, including EOBRs

| 1/21/2009

Jan. 21, 2009 – In one of his first moves after taking office, President Barack Obama put a hold on the flurry of regulations issued by the Bush administration in its last days.

In a Tuesday, Jan. 20, memo sent to heads of executive departments and agencies, Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel brought the executives and agency heads up to speed on Obama’s plan for “managing the federal regulatory process.”

In the memo, Emanuel wrote that agency heads appointed by Obama must review any regulation not having cleared the White House Office of Management and Budget during the Bush administration.

One such regulation was a final rule on the mandated use of electronic on-board recorders.

The EOBR – or “black box” – rule was sent to the White House for approval in November 2008 and did not get the needed approval to be published in the Federal Register before Bush left office.

In addition to bringing regs at OMB back in for review, any regulation that Bush’s OMB office had approved but had not published officially in the Federal Register is also on hold waiting for agency review, according to the memo.

Regulations that had cleared the White House and been published in the Federal Register, but had not yet gone into effect were also addressed in the memo.

Specifically for the trucking industry, three new regulations were published in the Federal Register during the last days of the Bush administration. Those include final rules on responsibility for intermodal chassis, driver medical certification verification and the new entrant safety assurance process.

Emanuel’s memo requests that the agencies with final rules that have not gone into effect yet delay the effective date 60 days and open another comment period for 30 days.

None of the three regs affecting the trucking industry have gone into effect, and Washington, DC, insiders expect the leadership at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation to comply with the memo’s request for delay and comment period.

Provided FMCSA and the DOT comply with Obama’s request, the medical certification rule and the new entrant rules would go into effect sometime in April. The intermodal rule would be delayed until August.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor