This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Second quarter GDP grew at a 6.5 percent annualized pace, although COVID’s delta variant, inflation, and massive deficit spending could dampen growth going forward. The 2021 Federal Register surpassed 40,000 pages, though the pundit class paid more attention to turning gymnastics into a culture war issue. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from pool pumps to spiny lobsters.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 63 final regulations last week, after 72 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 40 minutes.
  • With 1,867 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,241 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,218 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 70 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 45 the previous week.
  • With 1,224 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,125 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 444 notices last week, after 456 notices the previous week.
  • With 12,653 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 21,967 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,440 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 2,045 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 287 pages.
  • With 41,377 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 71,840 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are two such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from net savings of $100.7 million to net costs of $362.5 million. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 31 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2021, with four in the last week. This is on pace for 54 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 412 new rules affect small businesses. Eight are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

The new For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

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