CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week In Regulation

Just another week in the world of regulation:

  • Last week, 76 new final rules were published, up from 51 the previous (holiday-shortened) week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every 2 hours and 13 minutes — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • All in all, 2,708 final rules have been published in the Federal Register this year.
  • If this keeps up, the total tally for 2012 will be 3,842 new rules.
  • Last week, 1,571 new pages were added to the 2012 Federal Register, for a total of 55,324 pages.
  • At its current pace, the 2012 Federal Register will run 79,463 pages.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. The 36 such rules published so far in 2012 have compliance costs of at least $17.4 billion. Two of the rules do not have cost estimates, and a third cost estimate does not give a total annual cost. We assume that rules lacking this basic transparency measure cost the bare minimum of $100 million per year. The true cost is almost certainly higher.
  • One economically significant rule was published last week.
  • So far, 272 final rules that meet the broader definition of “significant” have been published in 2012.
  • So far this year, 521 final rules affect small business. 72 of them are significant rules.

Highlights from final rules published last week:

  • Last week’s economically significant regulation comes from the EPA. It has set new performance standards for oil refineries under five years old. Estimated compliance costs are $79 million. This is short of the $100 million threshold; it counts as an economically significant rule because EPA estimates benefits ranging from $200 million to $1.9 billion. Something to keep in mind: if an estimate’s range covers nearly a factor of ten, it is usually a fancy way of saying “we have no idea what the benefits will be.”
  • The EPA published a more humble rule on Tuesday concerning paper mill emissions. It estimates $5.9 million in capital costs and $2.1 million in annually recurring costs, and wisely declines to quantify benefits, because “we were unable to quantify the emissions reductions associated with the new requirements in the final rule.”
  • You may have heard the term “policing for profit,” in which police departments and other agencies take property from people who have not been convicted of crimes. The DEA, a longtime leader of the policing for profit movement, has updated its seizure and forfeiture regulations.
  • The federal government regulates where wine producers may say their wine comes from. Last week Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau established the Innwood Valley region in California and the Middleburg Virginia region.
  • Updated FAA airworthiness directives for Glasflugel gliders.

For more data, go to TenThousandCommandments.com.