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This Week in Ridiculous Regulations: 2016 Wrap-Up

The 2016 Federal Register’s record-setting page count ends at 97,110 pages—more than 15,000 pages above the previous record, set in 2010. The difference is more than 19 percent, no small feat for a document that has been published since 1936.

In percentage terms, this new record exceeds the difference between Babe Ruth (714) and Henry Aaron’s (755) home run totals by more than a factor of three. Aaron would have needed to hit at least 850 home runs to beat Ruth’s record by the same margin as this year’s Federal Register beat 2010’s record.

Regulatory agencies issued 3,853 regulations, more than a 13 percent increase over last year, and the highest total since 2005. As my colleague Wayne Crews noted, this exceeds the number of bills Congress passed by a factor of 18. Congress technically holds all legislative powers, but the executive branch has clearly been busier on that front. Restoring a semblance of balance should be a top reform priority going forward.

The first few weeks of January will likely be just as busy as the Obama administration concludes its midnight rush. We shall see what the next administration brings. New rules from the last week range from herring to imported cars.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 97 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 130 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every one hour and 44 minutes.
  • Federal agencies issued 3,853 final regulations in 2016. Last year’s total was 3,406 regulations.
  • Last week, 2,201 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 2,284 pages the previous week.
  • The 2016 Federal Register totaled 97,110 pages. This well exceeds the 2010 Federal Register’s previous all-time record adjusted page count of 81,405.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. 34 such rules were published in 2016, none in the last week.
  • The running compliance cost tally for 2016’s economically significant regulations ranges from $24.1 billion to $37.1 billion.
  • 311 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” were published this year.
  • In 2016, 614 new rules affected small businesses; 105 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.