White House Updates Progress On Curbing Burdensome Rules

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Curbing Overly Burdensome Regulations

Key Development: White House updates progress on deregulatory efforts spanning 26 executive branch agencies.

What's Next: EPA plan includes high-priority, near-term action on 16 regulatory initiatives, as well as 19 long-term reviews to determine whether other changes are needed.

By Dean Scott  

The White House Jan. 30 highlighted examples at 26 federal agencies where it said clear progress is being made in curbing overly burdensome or duplicative federal regulations.

The announcement by the White House Office of Management and Budget included progress reports from agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, in reviewing and in some cases eliminating rules to reduce duplications and regulatory burdens. The status reports tracked progress on deregulatory efforts identified by the agencies in final plans they released in August 2011. No changes were made to the plans themselves.

EPA and other agencies are adopting a process to review regulations every few years or so—in EPA's case, every five years—relying in part on public nominations of additional rules for review, according to the EPA report, Improving Our Regulations: Final Plan for Periodic Retrospective Reviews of Existing Regulations.

The governmentwide reviews, mandated by President Obama in January 2011, “are already producing measurable savings for consumers and businesses,” according to a Jan. 30 blog post by Cass Sunstein, who heads the White House Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

EPA Priority Actions Detailed.

EPA's near-term regulatory changes include:

  • reduced reporting and recordkeeping for gasoline and diesel regulations;
  • more regulatory certainty for farmers through better coordination between EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
  • modernizing scientific methods for chemical regulation, including the reduction of animal testing;
  • allowing online electronic reporting of health and safety data under the Toxic Substances Control Act; the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act; and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act;
  • changes to some TSCA reporting requirements;
  • better coordination of permit requirements under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program;
  • evaluation of alternative approaches to meeting drinking water regulations;
  • more flexibility for combined sewer overflows;
  • harmonization of greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards;
  • better coordination of emission reduction regulations for multiple air pollutants;
  • revisions of new source performance standards;
  • simplification of Clean Air Act Title V permitting requirements; and
  • improving cost estimates for EPA regulations generally.

Issued Jan. 18, Obama's executive order required federal agencies and departments to review and revise existing rules to make their regulatory programs more effective or less burdensome (12 DEN A-9, 1/19/11).

EPA Reviews Similar to Earlier Draft.

The government-wide deregulatory reports finalized in August spanned 26 executive branch agencies as well as 16 independent agencies. EPA's 16 near-term and 19 long-term reviews were essentially unchanged from those detailed in its August report.

EPA said in its August report that the potential economic savings from those deregulatory efforts are "significant" and could cut employer compliance and other costs by $1.5 billion over five years.

The agency pointed to a final rule that exempts milk producers from regulations designed to protect against oil spills, a change it said will reap $145 million to $148 million in annual savings. A regulatory change that will remove redundant air pollution requirements now imposed on gasoline stations will save $87 million annually, according to the report.

By Dean Scott  

Links to the White House progress reports and final regulatory plans for EPA and other federal departments and agencies are available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/21stcenturygov/actions/21st-century-regulatory-system.

The White House blog post from Cass Sunstein is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/01/30/regulatory-reform-progress.