Obama's agencies push flurry of "midnight" actions

Regulations on commodities speculation, air pollution from the oil industry, doctors’ Medicare drug payments and high-skilled immigrant workers are among the rules moving through the pipeline as Obama’s administration grasps at one last chance to cement his legacy. So are regulations tightening states’ oversight of online colleges and protecting funding for Planned Parenthood.

Also moving ahead are negotiations on an investment treaty with China and decisions by the Education Department on whether to offer debt relief to students at defunct for-profit colleges. The Department of Transportation may also go ahead with a ban on cellphone calls on commercial flights and a rule requiring most freight trains have at least two crew members on duty.

Some agencies are pulling back, fearful that Trump and the GOP-led Congress will use a seldom-invoked legislative tool to permanently wipe out their 11th-hour regulations. For example, the Interior Department has failed to release a long-awaited rule to protect streams from coal mining pollution — and indications are it might never issue it.