Transparency is the lifeblood of democracy. Washington needs more of it, especially in the all-too-opaque world of regulation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for example, is the most expensive federal regulatory agency. Its annual budget is fairly modest in Beltway terms, at a little less than $11 billion, but that’s not where the vast majority of its costs come from. Complying with EPA regulations costs the U.S. economy $353 billion per year — more than 30 times its budget — according to the best available estimate. By way of comparison, that is more than the entire 2011 national GDPs of Denmark ($332 billion) and Thailand ($345 billion).
That figure doesn’t come from the EPA, which last released such an estimate in 1990, but from the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Wayne Crews, who parsed through publicly available documents, cost estimates of economically significant regulations, and whatever else he could find. That so much effort was required is part of the problem.
Read the whole thing here. Note that two important pieces of EPA news have dropped since I wrote the piece: EPA head Lisa Jackson has resigned, and the overdue Unified Agenda, which contains forthcoming rules, was finally released the Friday before Christmas — timing which suggests the administration would like to minimize publicity of its contents.