This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Happy new year, everyone. The Biden administration’s first Federal Register volume is officially complete. While there likely will not be much significant legislation in 2022, which would put downward pressure on new rule counts, the administration may react to this by enacting policies on its own without congressional authorization, which would put upward pressure on new rule counts. Which of these opposing forces will be stronger? We’ll find out. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from sculpin classification to trading weapons of mass destruction.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 56 final regulations last week, after 63 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 40 minutes.
  • There were 3,257 new final regulations in 2021. 2020’s total was 3,218 final regulations.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 41 minutes for the entire year, 24/7.
  • Agencies issued 38 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 26 the previous week.
  • There were 2,094 new proposed regulations in 2021. 2020’s total was 2,102 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 328 notices last week, after 370 notices the previous week.
  • There were 21,985 notices in 2021. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,426 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,310 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue in 2021 contained 299.8 pages.
  • The 2021 Federal Register contains a total of 74,352 pages. 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 26 such rules so far in 2021, one 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 $13.54 billion to $19.36 billion. 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.
  • There were 387 new regulations meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 912 new rules affected small businesses; 101 are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

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

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