Just another week in the world of regulation:
- 89 new final rules were published last week, compared to 68 the previous week. That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every one hour and 53 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All in all, 589 final rules have been published in the Federal Register this year. If this keeps up, the total tally for 2012 will be 3,477 new rules.
- 1,594 new pages were added to the 2012 Federal Register last week, for a total of 12,961 pages. At this pace, the 2012 Federal Register will run 77,149 pages.
- There were 17 significant actions this week, as defined by Executive Order 12866. Of those, none are “economically significant” final rules, meaning a cost $100 million or more per year. So far, 85 significant rules have been published in 2012.
- So far this year, 100 final rules affect small businesses. 19 of them are significant rules.
- The 9 economically significant rules published so far in 2012 cost at least $15.01 billion. Two of the rules do not have cost estimates. We assume that rules lacking basic transparency measure cost the bare minimum of $100 million per year. The true cost is almost certainly higher.
Here are highlights from final rules that passed this week:
- The Agricultural Marketing Service published a proposed rule under which it would like to pay for advertising and promoting beef. Corporate welfare: it’s what’s for dinner.
- The Defense Department, General Services Administration, and NASA jointly issued five separate rules on Friday about acquisition and dealing with contractors. Read them here, here, here, here, and here.
- The FAA issued new security regulations for airplane bathrooms.
For more data, updated daily, go to TenThousandCommandments.com.
It may have been a short work week, but it was still a busy one in the world of regulation:
- 68 new final rules were published this week. That’s a new rule every 2 hours and 28 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All in all, exactly 500 final rules have been published in the Federal Register this year. If this keeps up, 3,327 new rules will hit the books in 2012.
- 1,545 new pages were added to the 2012 Federal Register this week, for a total of 11,367 pages. At this pace, the 2012 Federal Register will run 76,804 pages.
- There were 15 significant actions this week, as defined by Executive Order 12866. Of those, one is an “economically significant” final rule. That means it costs $100 million or more per year.
- So far this year, 84 final rules affect small businesses. 16 of them are significant rules.
- Economically significant rules published so far in 2012 cost at least $15.01 billion. Two of the nine rules do not have cost estimates. We assume that rules lacking this basic transparency measure cost the bare minimum of $100 million per year. The true cost is almost certainly higher.
Here are highlights from final rules that passed this week:
- The Small Business Administration is changing the size requirements for certain types of businesses to qualify as small. By raising some size limits, the SBA hopes to increase the amount of money that it transfers from taxpayers to private businesses.
- The EPA issued a 123-page final rule designating and revising critical habitats for two types of minnow, each measuring less than 3 inches in length.
- The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has revised its fireworks approval policy.
- We dare you to read all the way through this regulation that was published today to implement part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill.
For more data, updated daily, go to TenThousandCommandments.com.
The latest goings-on in the world of regulation:
- The 2012 Federal Register is already over 1,000 pages long. After four working days, it’s already up to 1,007 pages.
- The 2011 Federal Register weighs in at 82,419 pages. That’s 328 pages per work day. Adjusting the count for skips, jumps, and blank pages would probably yield around 81,000 pages. That adjusted count should come out soon. The all-time record adjusted page count is 81,405 pages, set in 2010.
- My colleague Wayne Crews has set up TenThousandCommandments.com, which has daily Federal Register updates and other nifty features. Wayne talked to me about the site in this podcast; there is also a 10KC Facebook page and a Twitter feed. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the public to keep an eye on the regulatory state. Of course, agencies and OMB should already be doing this already. Since they aren’t, CEI is doing it for them.
- Sam Patterson compares the size of the 2011 Federal Register to a lengthy reading list of classic books totaling about 7.3 million words. How do they compare? “[Y}ou’d have to read every single one of these books ten times over to achieve the same word count that was added to the Federal Register in a single year.”
Also worth noting: in the publishing industry, a manuscript page has 250 words. Or at least it’s counted that way; every page is different. So a 200-page manuscript is considered a 50,000-word book. The average Federal Register page has about 1,000 words. Patterson used 900 words per page to err on the side of caution. Using his numbers, a paperback edition of the Federal Register would be about 292,000 pages instead of 81,000.
- It’s not pornography, it’s the TSA: “’When Bruch reached into Russell’s groin area he ‘lifted up to feel,’ ‘ wrote 9th Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown in the opinion.”
- Having solved all of Indiana’s other problems, state Rep. Randy Frye wants to criminalize novelty lighters.
- Jim Gattuso and Diane Katz list the ten worst federal rules of 2011. There are some doozies.
Yesterday, the 2011 Federal Register hit the 70,000 page milestone. This is just the 14th time in the Register‘s 76-year history the unadjusted page count has gotten that high. And remember, it’s still November. It’s on pace to top 80,000 pages.
To be more precise, assuming 250 working days this year, the projected page count is currently 80,641. That would place 2011 in top-five territory for all-time unadjusted page counts. President Carter set the record in his final year with 87,012 pages.
Adjusting that count for thousands of blank pages and jumps yields 73,258 pages, a then-record that was broken five times by George W. Bush and once (so far) by Barack Obama. He set the new record adjusted page count last year with 81,405.
The usual caveat applies here. Federal Register page counts are not a perfect measure of regulatory activity. A rule that costs little can ramble on for dozens of pages; a rule costing billions can fit on a single page. But when page counts threaten all-time records, it’s a pretty good indicator that the regulation industry is booming.
In short: the next time someone complains about America’s unregulated cowboy capitalism, you should ask them where such a thing might actually be found.
This year’s Federal Register is on pace to be 80,190 pages long. That’s an average of 220 pages of fresh proposed rules, final rules, notices, and more every single day.
If this pace keeps up, this year’s Register will make for slightly easier reading than 2010, which set a new record with an 81,405 adjusted page count.
Think about that for a second. 160,000 pages in two years. Even Stephen King couldn’t write that much. Amazing that so many people claim this or that part of the economy is unregulated. With 165,000 pages already in the Code of Federal Regulations and more coming every day, it just ain’t so.
In July, President Obama issued an executive order requiring independent agencies to comb through their books and axe obsolete or harmful rules. A similar order for cabinet-level agencies in January saved an estimated $1.5 billion in regulatory costs, or a little less than 0.1 percent of total annual federal regulatory costs.
The order gives agencies 100 days to act. The FCC struck a little early by announcing yesterday it was getting rid of 83 rules. The White House is expected to release the final package for all independent agencies today. Total estimated savings are $10 billion over five years. Combined with the earlier executive order, federal regulatory costs could go from $1.752 trillion per year to about $1.749 trillion per year.
One of the rules the FCC is chucking is the Fairness Doctrine, which empowers the FCC to regulate the ideology of political programming. It hasn’t been enforced since 1987 because it violates the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech”). But until now, nobody thought to actually remove it from the Code of Federal Regulations. It’s been sitting there the whole time!
Other hygienic measures the FCC is taking include “the deletion of obsolete “broadcast flag,” cable programming service tier rate, and broadcast applications and proceedings rules,” according to an FCC press release.
The repeals will become official upon publication in the Federal Register.
Today is the last working day of 2010 which means the last edition of the 2010 Federal Register came out this morning. The final unadjusted page count is 82,589 pages. That’s the third highest ever.
Page counts are typically highest in years when power changes hands. This year was no exception. The two other highest unadjusted page counts occurred when Carter handed off to Reagan, and when Clinton handed off to Bush. The Bush-Obama handoff featured the largest-ever adjusted page count, 79,435.
This time, the spike happened with only the House changing parties. The next few years will tell us a lot. 2010’s high page count may have been a combination of this year’s ambitious legislation plus a midnight rush to get the White House’s regulatory wish list in place before the other team can block it.
Or, as in the past, it could be that we have reached a new, permanent plateau of frenzied federal activity.
I’m hoping for the former. But the Republicans in Congress are no friends of limited government, so one never knows. They will reliably oppose anything the other team comes up with. But as the Bush years showed, they’ll also vote for the exact same policies so long as it’s their team that’s proposing them. This is not a recipe for fiscal or regulatory health.
The Federal Register is not a perfect barometer of how active government is. Sometimes rules that ramble on for dozens of pages are almost innocuous. An economically disastrous regulation can take up less than a page. But in general, high page counts mean a more active government.
Over at the AmSpec blog, I break down some of the numbers behind the Federal Register’s latest milestone — 75,000 pages.
President Bush still holds the adjusted page count record. But President Obama is putting up quite a challenge; at its current 327-page per day pace, the 2010 Federal Register would be 81,560 unadjusted pages long.
And it’s on pace to hit a near-record 80,447 pages. Over at the Daily Caller, I crunch some of the numbers and offer up some Ideas for regulatory reform, inspired by Wayne Crews’ 10,000 Commandments.
-The Federal Register’s accelerating pace is due to two things. One is implementation of the health care and financial regulation bills. The other is that, fearing a party change in Congress, lame-duck regulating may have already begun.
-Keeping Federal Register page counts in check is important. Keeping the contents of those pages in check is even more important. Comprehensive regulatory reform involves much, much more.
-Such as five-year sunsets for all new regulations unless specifically reauthorized by Congress.
-And a comprehensive look at the regulatory state in each year’s Economics Report of the President.
-And a bipartisan commission to comb through the books for harmful or obsolete regulations. They would hand their recommendations for repeal to Congress for an up-or-down vote, without amendment.
Posted in Publications, regulation
Tagged 10000 commandments, daily caller, dea, deregulate to stimulate, drug enforcement administration, federal register, reform regulation, regulation, regulatory reform, regulatory reform commission, sunsets, ten thousand commandments, wayne crews
Tomorrow morning at 6:50 am, I’ll be on the Brad Davis Show on the Talk of Connecticut. We’ll be talking about the Federal Register and regulation in general.
If you live in Connecticut, you can tune to 640 AM, 1240 AM, 1360 AM, or 1470 AM, depending on which part of the state you’re in.