CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

Just another week in the world of regulation:

  • 77 new final rules were published last week, up from 76 the previous week. That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every 2 hours and 11 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All in all, 953 final rules have been published in the Federal Register this year. If this keeps up, the total tally for 2012 will be 3,596 new rules.
  • 1464 new pages were added to the 2012 Federal Register last week, for a total of 20,951 pages. At this pace, the 2012 Federal Register will run 78,176 pages.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. The 15 such rules published so far in 2012 cost at least $15.2 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.
  • No economically significant rules were published last week. There were 11 significant actions last week, as defined by Executive Order 12866. So far, 118 significant final rules have been published in 2012.
  • 17 of this week’s final rules affect small business. So far this year, 182 final rules affect small businesses. 29 of them are significant rules.

Highlights from final rules published this week:

  • A new Dodd-Frank-inspired rule regulating swap dealers could potentially be very expensive. Between paperwork, recordkeeping, and buying new phone systems that will record all transaction-related calls, it could add up to a very large cost. But, “Based on the available data, the Commission has been unable to reliably quantify the cost of compliance with the recordkeeping rules.” Independent commenters have given estimates ranging from $75 million to $500 million. The rule is not classified as economically significant.
  • The FAA has jurisdiction over commercial space travel regulation. Historically, the legal basis for this was in Title 49, chapter 701 of the U.S. Code, or 49 U.S.C. chapter 701 in the official format. In 2010, Congress pulled a switcheroo and moved it to 51 U.S.C. chapter 509. Confusion reigned. Fortunately, a new FAA rule published on Thursday clears things up and corrects obsolete citations in the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • Federal prisoners have always been allowed to publish. But regulations prohibited them from doing so with a byline. The fear was that they might profit from their crimes or become famous, and thus a security risk. On Tuesday, the Bureau of Prisons published a rule repealing that regulation. It becomes effective on May 3. The change is the result of a 2007 lawsuit. Mark Jordan, a convicted murderer, published several articles about prison life in Off! Magazine under his own name. He was punished, and successfully sued.

For more data, updated daily, go to TenThousandCommandments.com.