Biden Plans Slate of Regulations from Clean Power to Fuel Efficiency: The Kiplinger Letter

The White House is poised to roll out an expansive slate of regulations — getting things shipshape, before the next election.

To help you understand the anticipated updates in the regulatory review process from the White House, and what we expect to happen in the future, our highly experienced Kiplinger Letter team will keep you abreast of the latest developments and forecasts (Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Letter or subscribe). You'll get all the latest news first by subscribing, but we will publish many (but not all) of the forecasts a few days afterward online. Here’s the latest…

Facing a divided and chaotic Congress and uncertain 2024 reelection prospects, President Biden will turn to regulation over the next year or so, getting new rules in place before a new administration possibly takes over. Many of the rules should now be familiar to anyone who has followed Washington and its political jockeying over the last decade.

Biden's Clean Power Plan
Case in point, another Clean Power Plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions by power plants. Biden’s version of the CPP allows more wiggle room for technology, such as carbon capture, to keep coal and natural gas-fired power plants in compliance with new emissions requirements. But critics say regulators still unfairly penalize fossil fuels, the possible basis for future legal challenges.

CAFE standards
The so-called CAFE standards (corporate average fuel economy), continue to be a perpetual point of contention. The Biden administration wants to boost requirements by 2% annually for cars and 4% per year for trucks, pushing fuel efficiency to a fleetwide average of 58 miles per gallon by 2032, up from 50.5 now. 

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The Department of Energy has also proposed major revisions to how it calculates petroleum-equivalent fuel economy for electric vehicles. Automakers worry this will force a shift to electric cars before the technology and consumers are ready. Regulators are proposing even stricter efficiency gains for heavy-duty vehicles, seeking 10% annual increases in efficiency for model years 2027 through 2032.

Oil and gas leasing on public lands
In the energy and transportation space, a major locus of activity is a hike in the cost of oil and gas leasing on public lands by the Interior Department. This includes increasing the royalty rate from 12.5% to 16.67% and the minimum bid from $2 to $10 per acre. The proposal also strengthens required bonding, the money secured before drilling starts to cover cleanup costs for abandoned wells.

Methane emissions
Officials have also moved to reduce methane emissions from the production of oil and natural gas, as well as leaks from the pipelines used to transport natural gas. They also aim to tighten limits on fine particulate matter, a deadly pollutant that includes soot and is produced by power plants, construction trucks and more.

Other forthcoming regulations of note include a rule redefining “independent contractor” under federal law, which has significant implications for worker pay and benefits, new efficiency standards for appliances, including air conditioners, washing machines, refrigerators and stoves and an overhaul of risk management rules to prevent chemical accidents. 

Some of these standards are finalized and have yet to take effect, while others are still in the rulemaking process. Other priorities, like workplace heat regulations, may require a second Biden term.

This forecast first appeared in The Kiplinger Letter, which has been running since 1923 and is a collection of concise weekly forecasts on business and economic trends, as well as what to expect from Washington, to help you understand what’s coming up to make the most of your investments and your money. Subscribe to The Kiplinger Letter.

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Matthew Housiaux
Reporter, The Kiplinger Letter
Housiaux covers the White House and state and local government for The Kiplinger Letter. Before joining Kiplinger in June 2016, he lived in Sioux Falls, SD, where he was the forum editor of Augustana University's student newspaper, the Mirror. He also contributed stories to the Borgen Project, a Seattle-based nonprofit focused on raising awareness of global poverty. He earned a B.A. in history and journalism from Augustana University.