This Week in Ridiculous Regulations


The shutdown continued all through Christmas week. But because the Federal Register works on a few days lag for many of its publications, it still had plenty of activity. It will also continue daily publication throughout the shutdown. But if the shutdown lasts much longer, the Register will likely go into a near hibernation, with daily page and rule counts possibly going into single digits.

The net impact of the shutdown will likely be near-zero. Notices and regulations would be published at different times, rather than not at all. Federal employees typically receive back pay for the time they are idled. There is also the matter that roughly 75 percent of the federal government is unaffected by the shutdown. With that context out of the way, new rules range from the last week range from kiwi fees to hydropower recreation.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 92 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 82 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every one hour and 50 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 3,372 final regulations in 2018. At that pace, there will be 3,386 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 3,236 regulations.
  • Last week, 1,599 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,641 pages the previous week.
  • The 2018 Federal Register totals 67,676 pages. It is on pace for 67,949 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. Six such rules have been published this year, one in the last week—the first since June 12.
  • The running compliance cost tally for 2018’s economically significant regulations ranges from $220.1 million to $2.54 billion. Until last week, the net costs were actually net savings.
  • Agencies have published 108 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year.
  • So far in 2018, 656 new rules affect small businesses; 29 of them are classified as significant. 

Highlights from selected final rules published last week:

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