This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

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Congress averted a government shutdown and continued to negotiate over nearly $5 trillion in combined spending. Merck announced an antiviral pill for COVID-19 that could reduce the risk of hospitalization or death in half, which could potentially free up hospital beds if the FDA allows it to market. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from perishable mail to heaters.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 93 final regulations last week, after 59 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 51 minutes.
  • With 2,469 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,283 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,218 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 39 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 39 the previous week.
  • With 1,582 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,102 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 502 notices last week, after 492 notices the previous week.
  • With 16,655 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 22,148 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,401 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,113 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 290 pages.
  • With 54,585 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 72,586 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 10 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 $1.42 billion to $4.81 billion. 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 318 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2021, with six in the last week. This is on pace for 516 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 679 new rules affect small businesses; 83 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.