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Efficiency Standards in Limbo

Why should sustainability professionals care who’s leading the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs?

Because that function, part of the Office of Management and Budget, is tasked with reviewing federal regulations and, supposedly, “reducing paperwork burdens.” And because a number of environmental and energy regulations have been sitting at the OMB waiting for the White House’s approval, way past the deadlines specified by law, according to the New York Times.

Regulations in limbo at the OMB include energy efficiency standards for appliances, lighting and buildings – creating uncertainty for companies as they plan future retrofits. Just last month, the White House finished a delayed review of two proposed rules governing formaldehyde emission standards for wood products, including plywood and particleboard, which the EPA was supposed to have finalized by January 1. This delay was minor compared to some – a proposed standard for walk-in coolers and freezers has been awaiting White House approval since September 2011.

Now President Obama’s nominee to lead the regulatory and information office, Howard A. Shelanski, has told Congress that his top priority is to speed up regulatory reviews. But he’ll have to face down formidable challenges – including vacancies, Republican claims of over-regulation, and disagreements within the Obama administration – to make a dent in the backlog.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

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