Angry allies, North Korea, and Chinese tariffs dominated the news last week. Under the radar, regulatory agencies closed in on their 1,500th new regulation of the year. The newest batch of rules range from air cargo to dietary fiber.
On to the data:
- Last week, 57 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 80 the previous week.
- That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 57 minutes.
- Federal agencies have issued 1,494 final regulations in 2018. At that pace, there will be 3,220 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 3,236 regulations.
- Last week, 1,317 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,286 pages the previous week.
- The 2018 Federal Register totals 28,432 pages. It is on pace for 61,276 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. Three such rules have been published this year, one in the last week.
- The running compliance cost tally for 2016’s economically significant regulations is $319.1 million.
- Agencies have published 52 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year.
- In 2018, 256 new rules affect small businesses; 14 of them are classified as significant.
Highlights from selected final rules published last week:
- Agencies, when calculating the costs and benefits of their regulations, often just make stuff up. They don’t use standardized procedures or assumptions, and often (but not always) ignore downstream or indirect costs. And opportunity costs are, of course, impossible for even the best analyst to quantify. A proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule titled “Increasing Consistency and Transparency in Considering Costs and Benefits in the Rulemaking Process” aims to reduce that problem, at least at the EPA.
- A new rule for screening air cargo will cost $104.1 million over its first year, with annual costs in the neighborhood of $30 million thereafter.
- Guidance for what counts as “dietary fiber” on nutrition labels.
- A new classification for a medical device used in prostate surgery.
- Swinglea glutinosa extract.
- In this age of geopolitical uncertainty and possible trade wars, it is good to know that the federal government has a National Peanut Board. A new regulation changes how it computes the taxes it levies on peanut farmers (and, indirectly, consumers) to pay for it.