The stream protection rule for coal mining. This regulation, finalized in December 2016, would sharply restrict coal-mining companies from dumping waste into nearby waterways in the future. Also, before starting a new mine, coal companies would have to develop a plan and set aside money to restore affected streams once finished. Advocates say the rule is crucial to protect fragile ecosystems and limit the dumping of toxic heavy metals into water supplies. But the coal industry — which is already in sharp decline — says it would put large swaths of the nation’s untapped coal reserves off-limits and further crunch mining companies.
The methane waste rule. This Department of Interior regulation, finalized in November 2016, would require oil and gas companies to reduce methane leaks from operations on federal and tribal lands. Instead of just flaring it or letting it waft into the air, companies would have to capture the methane and sell it off. This rule was a component of Obama’s climate plan, which aimed to reduce emissions of methane — a powerful greenhouse-gas — from oil and gas drilling 40 percent by 2025. But the oil industry preferred this be regulated at the state level (which is typically looser).
The ‘resource extraction rule.’ This SEC regulation, finalized in June 2016, would require publicly traded oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose payments they make to foreign governments. It was done under the auspices of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Its supporters say the increased transparency would deter corruption from oil companies working abroad. (They’ll also note that Rex Tillerson, the likely secretary of state, was head of ExxonMobil, which fiercely fought the bill.) Its critics say it would make it harder for US energy companies to compete abroad.
The ‘blacklisting’ rule for contractors. This rule, finalized by the Department of Labor in August 2016, would require federal contractors to disclose labor law violations from the last three years — and change their practices — before they can receive a contract. In October, a federal judge halted this rule from taking effect, saying it went beyond the authority Congress had given the executive branch.
The Social Security gun rule. Under this regulation, finalized in December 2016, the Social Security Administration would submit information on recipients of disability insurance to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System if they met certain ‘mental impairment’ criteria. Gun-rights advocates said the system could block those on disability from being able to buy guns and rallied to repeal it.