This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

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Scientists may have found potential chemical evidence of life on Venus—phosphine gas, which in Venusian conditions may well have been produced by anaerobic (non-oxygen-using) microbes. No life forms have been directly observed, and phosphine is also present in the atmospheres of lifeless Jupiter and Saturn, but that is still a pretty big deal. In more earthly realms, regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from watermelon promotion to natural gas emissions.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 99 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 31 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every one hour and 42 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,328 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,198 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 55 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,568 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,154 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,146 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 449 notices, for a total of 16,089 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,100 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 3,012 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,112 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 59,172 pages. It is on pace for 81,280 pages. The 2019 total was 70,938 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. Four 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 $1.19 billion and $4.19 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 54 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 462 new rules affect small businesses; 20 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 regulations:

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