This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Astronauts with satellite GettyImages-176882839

By now, most of the world has a week or more of social distancing under their belts. People are doing an admirable job of dealing with the difficulties and helping each other out. Governments are responding to the coronavirus with a mix of hasty “flash policy” as well as getting rid of harmful regulations on restaurants, schools, and stores. Most of these rules were never needed in the first place, and a growing list of such rules is available on Twitter’s #NeverNeeded hashtag. Meanwhile, agencies issued new final regulations ranging from vegetable oil emissions to how to treat astronauts.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 82 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 62 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and three minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 703 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,196 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were also 35 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 463 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,105 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,184 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 568 notices, for a total of 4,853 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,060 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,492 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,258 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 16,226 pages. It is on pace for 73,755 pages. The 2019 total was 76,288 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (which subtracts skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Two such rules have been published this year. Four such rules were published in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations ranges from net savings of between $180 million and $4.69 billion. 2019’s total ranges from net savings of $350 million to $650 million, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact number depends on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 16 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 140 new rules affect small businesses; six of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new final regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.