In the Pipeline   Leave a comment

Hundreds of costly new regulations are also in the planning stages, many of which derive from the Dodd–Frank statute, Obamacare, and the EPA’s global warming crusade.

The most recent Unified Agenda—a semi-annual compendium of planned regulatory actions by agencies—lists 2,305 rules (proposed and final) in the pipeline. Of these, 131 are classified as “economically significant.” This is two less than the number pending in the previous agenda (fall 2011), and still high by historical standards. This year’s 131 “economically significant” rules represent an increase of 133% from the 56 identified in 2001.

An unusually large number of rules are pending at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the Administration’s regulatory review office. According to the latest OIRA data, 81 of the 150 regulations awaiting review have been pending for more than 90 days, exceeding the maximum time allotted under Executive Order 12866. Another seven were pending for more than 60 days (but fewer than 90 days).

Action on some of the Administration’s most ambitious regulations was postponed last year, including more stringent requirements for controlling ozone emissions. As proposed by the EPA, the rule would cost $90 billion or more annually and, potentially, millions of jobs. However, the President reportedly instructed then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to hold off on the new standards until 2013, which means these items are due to come up any day now.

Also on hold were various regulations to control power plant emissions of so-called greenhouse gases that would dramatically increase energy costs, as well as the designation of coal ash as a “hazardous substance”—estimated to cost $79 billion to $110 billion and thousands of jobs.

If the delays in rulemaking were the result of more thorough analyses or consideration of regulatory alternatives, that would be good news for the economy and consumers. But there is no indication that the Administration has embraced a newfound skepticism toward red tape. In fact, the regulations are expected to emerge again this year, evidently regarded by the Administration as more advantageous timing — as in post-election.

Now that Obama has a second term, expect more and bigger regulation and far more red-tape.

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