Biden’s battle on climate and social programs escalates red tape

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Rules on everything from new safety measures for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic to new standards for grades of canned baked beans have escalated the pace of government red tape far beyond the Trump era, the Competitive Enterprise Institute said Wednesday in its annual report.

“Biden’s economic and social interventions increase the costs of doing business and of creating real, as opposed to government and unionized, contractor jobs. The common denominator of all is the expansion of the spending and regulatory state,” author Clyde Wayne Crews wrote in the report, titled “Ten Thousand Commandments.”

The annual regulatory burden of $1.939 trillion amounts to nearly 7.4% of U.S. gross domestic product, which was $26.14 trillion in 2022. When adding regulatory costs to the annual federal spending of $6.27 trillion, Washington’s share of the U.S. economy totals 31.4%, the report said.

“If it were a country, U.S. regulation would be the world’s ninth-largest economy (not counting the United States itself), ranking behind Canada and ahead of South Korea,” Mr. Crews wrote.

Final rules imposed by the Biden administration in 2022 stood at 3,168, a nearly 29% drop from Mr. Biden’s first-year count of 4,429 final rules. The 2022 number was still higher than the low mark under former President Trump of 2,964 rules in 2019.

The report said Mr. Biden’s escalations of red tape “have been aided by rapid-fire crisis legislation costing trillions of dollars.”

“The American Rescue Plan [$1.9 trillion] was followed by a bipartisan infrastructure package [$1 trillion] and the Inflation Reduction Act [$740 billion]. Together, these were the largest ‘climate investments’ ever made by government,” the report stated.

Amid the president’s climate agenda, the Environmental Protection Agency is pushing new rules on particulate matter, power plant mercury and other toxic emissions. Some of the regulations are reactions to Mr. Trump’s rollback.

The Council on Environmental Quality has issued guidance on carbon capture regulations, while the Interior Department is undertaking rules for methane leaks and other measures affecting fossil-fuel operations on public lands, plus greenhouse gas emissions for power plants, Mr. Crews wrote.

“The administration eyes some of these for completion before a potential Republican president and Congress could use the Congressional Review Act to overturn them in 2025,” he said.

The White House says Mr. Biden is responding to an urgent need to address a climate crisis that increasingly is costing the U.S. economy and taxpayers hundreds of billions per year in emergency aid for natural disasters and recovery efforts.

“From unprecedented wildfires, to extreme flooding, to record-breaking hurricanes, Americans across the country are feeling the devastating impacts of the climate crisis,” the White House said. “In just the first eight months of 2023, the U.S. experienced 23 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters — the highest number on record. That’s why since taking office, President Biden has delivered on the most ambitious climate, conservation and environmental justice agenda in history, including signing into law the largest climate investment ever.”

The CEI report said much of the administration’s actions are executive branch rulemaking without input from Congress, resulting in costly hidden taxes imposed without legislation.

“Rules made by federal agencies impose a cost of government that extends well beyond what Washington taxes,” Mr. Crews wrote. “Federal environmental, safety and health, social, and economic regulations grip the economy, making it needlessly harder and more expensive to run a household or business in this country. Congress should start preparing now for substantial reforms to wrangle regulations back under control and put Congress back in charge.”

Read the full article on the Washington Times.