This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Thanksgiving will be a little different this year. With the recent news about promising COVID-19 vaccines, next year’s turkey celebration should be closer to normal. In other news, the famous Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico has become another 2020 casualty. It will close due to structural damage sustained in recent storms. On the other hand, a SpaceX rocket safely took four astronauts to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from cherry marketing subcommittees to groundfish specifications.

On to the data:

• Last week, 69 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 58 the previous week.
• That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 26 minutes.
• Federal agencies have issued 2,952 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,280 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
• There were 38 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,949 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,166 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,170 proposed regulations.
• Last week, agencies published 435 notices, for a total of 19,986 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,207 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
• Last week, 1,692 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,674 pages the previous week.
• The 2020 Federal Register totals 74,593 pages. It is on pace for 82,882 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. Five 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 $2.04 billion and $5.69 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 70 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
• So far in 2020, 588 new rules affect small businesses; 24 of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 of them classified as significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

• Marketing Order No. 966 for tomatoes grown in Florida has been amended.
• The government’s Cherry Industry Administrative Board is implementing subcommittee size and new term limit rules.
• There is a new Tehachapi Mountains viticultural area.
• National Environmental Policy Act compliance from the Forest Service.
• The Environmental Protection Agency will be enforcing parts of the Clean Air Act as they are written. This qualifies as an economically significant policy change with estimated savings of $860 million to $1.5 billion in present value terms.
• Health care for astronauts.
• Export regulations from the Industry and Security Bureau.
• Guidance document policies from the Peace Corps.
• Fees for trademarks.
• Bird hunting in Alaska.
• Eligibility for subsidized flood insurance.
• Call authentication trust anchor.
• A regulatory cleanup initiative from the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Children and Families Administration. They will go through their existing rules and fix typos, mistakes, and references to other regulations.
• Cooperative agreements between NASA and commercial firms.
• Minimum standards for intercity passenger rail service.
• Last week: Samoan swordfish. This week: Samoan bottomfish.
• Harvesting specifications for groundfish caught in Alaska.

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