This Week in Ridiculous Regulations


On Saturday the partial government shutdown became the longest ever. The news cycle was wall-to-wall wall and shutdown coverage, though Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) introduced a misguided bill to expand presidential tariff-making authority. The week’s 69-page Federal Register contained just one final regulation, 26 agency notices, and 2 presidential documents. For context, a typical day consists of a dozen or so new regulations and about 270 pages.

The Federal Register typically publishes on a 2-3 business day lag, so just as it took a few days for the shutdown to show up in rule and page counts, it will take a few days after the shutdown ends before things go back to normal. As always, keep in mind the net impact of the shutdown on regulation will be minimal. The same number of rules will be published, some of them will just be a little bit delayed.

The lone new regulation from last week concerns Alaskan fishing.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 1 new final regulation was published in the Federal Register, after 10 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every 168 hours.
  • Federal agencies have issued 11 final regulation in 2019. At that pace, there will be 344 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 3,367 regulations.
  • Last week, 69 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 439 pages the previous week.
  • The 2019 Federal Register totals 105 pages. It is on pace for 3,282 pages. The 2018 total was 68,082 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. No such rules have been published this year, with just one since last June 12. Six such rules were published in 2018.
  • The running compliance cost tally for 2019’s economically significant regulations is currently zero. The 2018 total ranges from $220.1 million to $2.54 billion, depending on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published no final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2018’s total was 108 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2019, no new rules affect small businesses; none of them are classified as significant. 2018’s totals were 660 rules affecting small businesses, 29 of them significant.

Last week’s lone new final regulation: Fishing for Pacific cod in the Gulf of Alaska using hook-and-line gear.

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