This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

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It was a four-day week due to Washington’s Birthday (see my colleague John Berlau’s recent book, George Washington, Entrepreneur). The Perseverance rover landed on Mars, assisted by the first helicopter to ever fly in Mars’ thin atmosphere. Back on Earth, a major snow storm hit the Midwest and caused power outages in Texas. At least one senator fled the country almost as quickly as he fled from his principles about four years ago. Agencies issued new rules ranging from pipeline reviews to arts penalties.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 37 final regulations last week, after 54 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every four hours and 33 minutes.
  • With 383 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,992 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,353 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 13 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 34 the previous week.
  • With 183 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 1,430 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,149 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 384 notices last week, after 374 notices the previous week.
  • With 2,842 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 22,203 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,005 new pages were added to the Federal Register in a three-day week, after 894 pages the previous week.
  • With 10,031 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 80,711 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting 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. There are two such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from net savings of $100.7 million to net costs of $362.5 million. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published eight final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2020, none in the last week. This is on pace for 63 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 22 new rules affect small businesses. Two are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

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