Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

* Rethinking everything…: DOT published a Request for Information (RFI) last week seeking insights that will help the Agency “assess whether, and to what extent, its programs and policies perpetuate systemic barriers to opportunities and benefits for people of color and other underserved groups.” After this assessment, DOT will seek to develop policies that “deliver resources and benefits equitably to all.” This new effort implements President Biden’s January Executive Order on “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government (Equity EO).” Highway peeps will need to put on their thinking caps for this one. DOT asks some difficult questions about defining equity within various transportation contexts, e.g., “How should the Department assess equity in Federal funding distributions?” Another question: can the defined concept of housing affordability be applied to “transportation affordability?” If so, how? Comments are due by June 24. 

* Big money and climate: President Biden’s EO 14030 was in the Federal Register last week. This EO establishes a “Climate-Related Financial Risk.” It directs the new climate advisor team to work with OMB and the Treasury to develop a comprehensive, Government-wide strategy regarding “the measurement, assessment, mitigation, and disclosure of climate-related financial risk to Federal Government programs, assets, and liabilities,” including financing linked to net-zero GHG emission by 2050 and areas where public and private investments can work in tandem “while advancing economic opportunity, worker empowerment, and environmental mitigation, especially in disadvantaged communities and communities of color.” There are directives to financial regulators regarding risks and possible corrective policies and an effort to determine the “resilience of life savings and pensions.” The EO sets a number of deadline dates.

* New Focus – Space Weather: On May 6 DOC/NOAA published a notice seeking nominations to the Space Weather Advisory Group, a new committee established by the “Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow (PROSWIFT) Act of 2020.”  Space weather deals with conditions within the Solar System, including the solar wind, emphasizing the space surrounding the Earth, and conditions in the magnetosphere, ionosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere. The new Advisory Group will contain 15 members, with five each from academia, the “commercial space weather sector” and “nongovernmental representatives of the space weather end-user community.” Deadline for nominations was Sunday May 30. An Interagency Working Group is vetting the nominations and that Group will make member selections. By Friday, May 28, NOAA’s team said they received “strong candidates” from the three required sectors, but they did not say how many, i.e., did they get to 15? The review process continues through June.

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