Obama regulatory process called opaque, costly

Michael P. Tremoglie Mar. 15, 2012, 12:24pm


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- Two nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations are critical of the regulatory processes of the Obama Administration.

The National Federation of Independent Business said the administration has been less than transparent in their promulgation of rules and the Heritage Foundation, just published a study detailing how costly the administration regulations have been.

NFIB is an association, representing small and independent businesses. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, it represents the members in the nation's capital and in all 50 state capitals. The mission is "to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses."

The NFIB surveyed its members in December 2011 asking what was the single biggest problem affecting their business. 19 percent responded government regulations.

Regarding the White House's regulatory environment the NFIB told Legal Newsline that the administration often made the process of promulgating regulations "far less transparent and accessible - particularly for the small-business community." NFIB cited the use of settlements by government agencies to agree to do rules on issues without consulting the industries involved.

One example of this is the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rules. According to the NFIB, "As a result of the lawsuit for the lead rules on residential housing, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) agreed to remove the opt-out provision and start an entirely new rulemaking that would cover the renovation of public and commercial buildings." But, said the NFIB, "homeowners, commercial property owners, and small-business owners had no ability to provide input on how this will affect them."

The Obama EPA is also a major regulatory culprit in the opinion of the Heritage Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit Washington DC think tank. Heritage published a new study March 13, titled, "Red Tape Rising: Obama-Era Regulation at the Three-Year Mark."

The monograph notes, "During the first three years of the Obama Administration, 106 new major federal regulations added more than $46 billion per year in new costs for Americans. This is almost four times the number-and more than five times the cost-of the major regulations issued by George W. Bush during his first three years."

The report named the EPA as imposing the most expensive regulation for 2011. This government entity issued a total of five major regulations costing in excess of $4 billion annually.

Heritage mentioned three new regulations - costing $2.6 billion annually - that impose stricter limits on industrial and commercial boilers and incinerators and $5.8 billion for initial costs. Yet, the EPA is not solely to blame. It had postponed the new rules "pending reconsideration by the agency and court review."

However, environmental groups filed lawsuits opposing this action and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the EPA stay in January.

Another EPA regulation is the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which is estimated by the EPA to cost $810 million annually. The State of Texas challenged the rule, claiming that the EPA used faulty assumptions in devising the standards and the D.C. Appeals Court delayed implementation pending court review.

But, proportionately, the greatest share of new regulations results from Dodd-Frank. According to the Heritage study, it was responsible for 12 major rules in 2011. Six are from the Securities and Exchange Commission, five from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and one from the Federal Reserve. The report observed that "hundreds more Dodd-Frank rules remain to be written."

The report concludes that while President Obama said there needs to be regulatory reform he has done little to implement reform. It notes that "excessive regulation ... cannot be blamed on the White House alone." Congress is complicit in this problem and must share in the blame.

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
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