Dan Byers Dan Byers
Vice President, Policy, U.S. Chamber Global Energy Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


January 18, 2019


At the annual U.S. Chamber of Commerce State of American Business address, our president and CEO Tom Donohue implored Congress and the Trump administration to come together and end the partial government shutdown. A Chamber letter to Congress highlighted alongside Donohue’s address detailed the numerous harmful impacts of the closure, which is already the longest in U.S. history.

Among these growing impacts is a near-blanket stoppage of work on key energy-related regulatory reforms that are important to sustaining and growing America’s competitive position in the global economy. This is because the primary agencies responsible for such reforms — the Department of Interior and EPA — are both closed for business.

Even before the shutdown, 2019 was poised to be a pivotal year for these agencies’ initiatives, as a large number of major reforms were set to be completed and several others were on track for release and completion in late 2019 or early 2020. While a couple of weeks may not seem like a big deal, as the shutdown drags on, it is not an exaggeration to say that it may soon have a material impact on the ultimate success or failure of these efforts.

To appreciate the importance of timing to successful completion of regulatory initiatives, we need look no further than the Obama administration. A number of high profile regulations were not completed until the final months of 2016 (in fact some “midnight regulations” were not finalized until after the 2016 election), and as a result were vulnerable to legislative veto using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Congress repealed 14 Obama administration rules using CRA in 2017 (two of which were energy-related).

For regulatory actions completed outside the CRA window, a future administration could undertake efforts to reconsider and revise recently finalized actions, and/or stop defending them in the courts. The list of Obama administration rules impacted in this way is long, and it is not difficult to envision similar efforts to undo rules in 2021 in the event of a new president or a change in Congressional makeup. In fact, with further delays, many of the Obama-era regulations that the Trump administration is attempting to reform could find themselves swinging back with the pendulum to be changed yet again.

With that as background, we have compiled a list of 20 energy-related regulatory reforms that are likely being impacted by the ongoing shutdown. Some of these impacts are immediate and clear, while others involving actions scheduled for later in the year are more uncertain. But with EPA, Interior, and even parts of the White House on an extended holiday leave, work on all of these reforms has ground to a halt.

(NOTE: most projected timelines in this list come from the administration’s October 2018 semiannual regulatory agenda. Some deadlines have already passed without action, and due to the shutdown and other factors, it is reasonable to expect further delays to most projected timelines.)

In approximate chronological order of expected actions that could be delayed, here we go…

A version of this post originally appeared on the Global Energy Institute's blog.

About the authors

Dan Byers

Dan Byers

Dan Byers is vice president for policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute with a focus on environmental and regulatory issues, Byers develops and implements strategies in support of the Institutes broader education and advocacy efforts.

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