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Ridding day care centers of fluorescent lightbulbs with toxic PCBs. Requiring a backup engineer on freight trains to avoid crashes. Restricting drones from flying over people.
Federal agencies were preparing these rules and dozens more when Donald Trump was elected. In one of his first acts, the president quietly froze them. That isn’t unusual. Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama signed similar orders.
Unlike in previous administrations, however, this time the proposed rules are long shots to be finished and enacted. Because of “the very clear signals of an anti-regulatory mandate from the president,” they are less likely to be implemented than in prior eras, according to Sally Katzen, a New York University law professor and former deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. Instead, they may vanish with little or no announcement or explanation. Already, they have disappeared from the main federal website that lists rules in the works.
Five federal agencies contacted by ProPublica said they are reviewing regulations but declined to address specifically the pending rules that were put on hold. A spokesman for the Health Resources and Services Administration said his agency is pursuing “efforts to reduce regulatory burden.” The White House did not respond to a request for comment.