Power plants generate a residue after burning coal called coal ash, more formally known as coal combustion residuals (CCRs). In October 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established national guidelines to address the environmental dangers and health risks of coal ash. In May, nearly two years after the rule regulating the disposal of CCRs from electric utilities came into effect, industry officials petitioned the EPA to reconsider the rule, claiming adverse effects.
After Hurricane Irma’s dissipation on September 15, 2017, the residents of Florida can now begin to assess the damage caused by the strongest hurricane making landfall since Katrina in 2005. According to early estimates, Irma has caused over 62 billion dollars in damage. However, amongst the destruction there is a silver lining; the damage caused was significantly limited by building regulations that went into effect in 2002. Homes and buildings that would have otherwise been destroyed by Hurricane Irma were able to survive, and suffered only minor damage.
In the last month, multiple large-scale data breaches were reported by various entities, with 3 breaches reported in the past week alone. Unfortunately, even the most well-known entities do not stand a chance against increasing technological abilities of bad actors. Since the Equifax breach in early September, Whole Foods, Sonic, Deloitte and the Securities Exchange Commission, among others, had similar large-scale breaches affecting consumers across the country.
Environmental regulation has been heavily targeted by President Trump since the first days of his presidency, and even throughout his campaign. He announced early on that he wanted to cut general business regulations by at least 75%. His justification was that he wanted to remove red tape and delays and promote industry growth and economic development. The two industries potentially most affected by changes to environmental regulations are the oil industry and the coal mining industry.
One of this administration’s first big moves towards environmental deregulation was withdrawing from the Paris Accord. Against the advice of many leaders in the tech and fossil fuel industry, Trump chose to withdraw, stating that the terms of the accord were not as favorable to the United States. Experts say the support of the Paris Accord stems from a general trend towards reducing emission and creating more sustainable sources as a better investment than coal and oil, and a more “global framework”. Although some experts and leaders in the fossil fuel industry have been denouncing the changes, others are consulting with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Interior Department on policy changes and leading the teams created to evaluate and remove regulations.
On May 20, 2016 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new nutrition facts label for packaged foods, the first significant makeover in twenty years. The new label reflects new scientific information regarding our diets; such as the link between diet and chronic diseases like obesity and heart disease. This new label comes after three years of negotiations and proposed improvements between the FDA, scientists, and lobbying groups. Those in favor of the changes have pointed out that the old nutrition fact labels had no information to help consumers determine if they were complying with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines’ recommendations and that the labels did not reflect the necessary nutrients per day. These changes affect manufacturers as well as consumers. Manufacturers are not only worried about having to reformulate their foods, but also having to reconsider their ability to make certain nutrient content claims in advertisements and on packaging. Companies will also have to consider additional costs associated with packaging design, development of new artwork, regulatory consultation and review to ensure label compliance, reconsideration of inconsistent advertising, and human costs associated with potential new operating procedures and training to ensure compliance with the new regulations. In response to complaints from manufacturers, consumer advocates are reminding the White House Administration to remember that the FDA’s mission is protect the health of the American people not the bottom line of manufacturers.
It is no secret that streaming services have been a highly controversial issue in the entertainment industry in recent years. Artists from all over the world have been affected by the rise of music streaming; many believe it is no different than piracy. Nevertheless, Spotify is in fifty-eight countries, and the user base consists of over fifty million subscribers globally, with twelve and a half million paying subscribers. As Spotify has grown, questions have risen surrounding the rights that artists, producers, and writers have to their music that the public has access to through ‘streaming’. As technology advances, the music industry will continue to change. The recently filed lawsuits against Spotify show that this is an underdeveloped area of the law that needs to be explored. The decisions regarding Spotify’s streaming service and compliance with copyright laws will have major implications for not just Spotify, but the entire music industry.
In April 2013, members of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the Council of State Governments (CSG) embarked on a venture to create the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (the Compact or IMLC), a voluntary, expedited pathway to licensure for qualified physicians who wish to practice medicine in multiple states. On April 20, 2017, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission, (IMLCC) issued its first Interstate Medical License to a Wisconsin physician who applied to practice in Colorado, setting a groundbreaking precedent in medical licensure portability. While the IMLC is a great first step toward increasing access to healthcare by expanding licensure portability, this initiative faces multiple regulatory hurdles.
In the eyes of underinsured or uninsured patients, Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) offer access to otherwise unaffordable medications. However, there are questions being raised whether PAPs are being abused by manufacturers as an inappropriate inducement. The government is increasing its inquiries into PAPs and is beginning to take more investigative action. PAPs are often funded by charitable donations from companies who benefit from the PAP paying for co-insurance for the very drugs the company manufactures. It is essential for companies seeking to develop or maintain charitable donations to remain compliant with existing regulations, but also be aware of forthcoming regulations as a result of present actions.
In 2016, Congress introduced a bill to reform the National Flood Insurance Program. Proponents of the bill saw it as necessary reform to a debt-ridden and ineffective program, while opponents saw it as an attack against a necessary safeguard for coastal Americans. The National Flood Insurance Program was set to expire at the end of September 2016, until Congress extended the program through December 8, 2017. As Americans rebuild from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Congress contemplates reform and seeks to keep the program funded past December.
After years of waiting, the final implementation extension deadlines for compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005 are near. The most recent extensions for certain states pushed the final compliance deadline to October 10, 2017. Assuming the Federal Government does not grant further extensions, by this date all 50 states must be compliant with the Act.