This week in ridiculous regulations: 2023 year-end special

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The tentative final numbers for new regulations for 2023 are in:

  • The final four-day week of 2023 was relatively slow: 60 final regulations, 34 proposed regulations, 380 agency notices, and 1,588 Federal Register pages. There were also six significant regulations, none of which met the $200 million threshold for a 3(f)(1) major rule, which replaced the old economically significant category.
  • Agencies issued 3,018 final regulations in 2023, down from 3,168 final regulations in 2022, and 3,257 in 2021. This only counts regulations that went through the proper rulemaking process. Regulatory dark matter such as guidance documents, notices, press releases, and blog posts are not included.
  • That is equivalent to a new regulation every two hours and 54 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Agencies issued 2,102 proposed regulations in 2023, up from 2,044 in 2022, and 2,094 in 2021.
  • Agencies issued 22,902 notices in 2023, up from 22,502 notices in 2022, and 20,018 in 2021.
  • The 2023 Federal Register is 90,402 pages long, at least by unadjusted page count (leaving in skips, jumps, and blank pages). It is the second-longest in history, going back to 1936, and the second year to top 90,000 pages. This is up from 80,756 pages in 2022, and 74,352 pages in 2021. The all-time record is 2016’s 96,994 pages (all adjusted page counts).
  • There were 28 new regulations that are either in the now-retired economically significant category ($100 million or more in economic impact in at least one year), or the new $200 million 3(1)(f) category that came into effect mid-year.
  • This makes an apples-to-apples comparison with previous years impossible. New rules for cost-benefit analysis will also bias cost estimates downwards while inflating estimated benefits, making the government’s self-reported cost estimates even less reliable.
  • For an apples-to-oranges comparison, there were 43 economically significant ($100 million or more) regulations in 2022, and 26 in 2021.
  • The total estimated cost of 2023’s economically significant and 3(f)(1) regulations ranges from $62.60 billion to $90.48 billion.
  • Again, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison with 2023, but 2022’s economically significant rules range from net estimated costs of $45.28 billion to $78.05 billion. In 2021, net estimated costs ranged from $13.54 billion to $19.92 billion. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies issued 290 regulations meeting the larger definition of “significant.” For comparison, there were 255 such new regulations in 2022, and 387 in 2021.
  • In 2023, agencies issued 780 new regulations affecting small businesses. Seventy-nine of them are significant. For comparison, in 2022 there were 912 rules affecting small businesses, 70 of them significant. 2021’s totals were 912 rules affecting small businesses, 101 of them significant.

Highlights from the final week of new final regulations in 2023:

And from last week’s proposed regulations:

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