Regulation blizzard: Government adds 1,516 pages to the Federal Register

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Breanna Deutsch Contributor
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Last week Mother Nature shut down Washington’s government offices for a day, but the extreme weather was no match for federal regulators.

Over that time period, 1,516 new pages and 56 additional final regulations were published in the Federal Register, according to the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Broken down, that is the equivalent of a new regulation added about every three hours.

We are only in the second month of 2014 and already the Federal Register has mushroomed to 9,079 pages. At this pace, the register will accumulate 73,218 pages by 2015. Shockingly, this would be the lowest total in five years.

Not all regulations are created equal — some are far more costly than others. So far this year there have been six final rules deemed “economically significant,” meaning they will have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. At this point, these six regulations have an estimated monetary impact of somewhere in between $614 million and $885 million. This figure will only continue to grow throughout the remaining months of 2014.

The 1996 Congressional Review Act (CRA) requires federal agencies to submit reports to Congress on economically significant rules.

According to CRA data, the Obama Administration has a 29 percent higher average of yearly major rulemakings than Bush did after his two terms in office. Bush’s overall average was 63 and Obama’s currently sits at 81.

There were 77 major rules in 2013, 67 in 2012 and 80 in 2011. In 2010, the administration added 99 major rules to the books — more than any other year since the passage of the CRA.

New regulations cost money, but they also cost a lot of man hours.

In 2013, regulators added an estimated 157.9 million hours of paperwork to comply with the 80,224 new pages of regulations in the Federal Register, according to a report released by the American Action Forum.

AAF found that the cumulative number of hours spent on regulatory-related paperwork in 2013 was 10.38 billion hours, an increase of nearly 158 million hours from 2012. The report’s author believes it would take more than 78,000 employees working full-time to complete the additional paperwork.

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