Obama Has 3,260 Rules In The Regulatory Pipeline

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The Obama administration’s got more than 3,200 regulations at various stages of completion, including 2,239 active rules agencies are working to finish before President Barack Obama leaves office.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget released its spring 2016 “Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions,” which lists 3,260 regulations at various stages in the regulatory pipeline. The vast majority of these regulations — 2,239 — are considered “active” rules, meaning regulators are still working on them.

That’s 2,239 regulations the Obama administration still needs to get through in the next 173 days. Obama’s got even more rules listed in this spring’s regulatory agenda than the 3,260 he had listed last spring. And this year, federal agencies have listed 202 “economically significant” regulations. Five hundred and sixty-five have been completed and another 502 are long-term rules.

“These rules are projected to have economic effects of at least $100 million annually,” Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., director of policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and an expert on the regulatory process, wrote in Forbes.

“Over-regulation is a bipartisan phenomenon, but this annual flow of larger-scale rules has been considerably higher under Obama than it was under President Bush,” Crews wrote. “This is attributable to the promise to regulate and go around Congress via the ‘pen and phone,’ let alone the ‘regulatory dark matter’ rulemaking happening off the books.”

CEI estimates federal regulations amount to a $1.9 trillion tax on the U.S. economy every year — or about $15,000 per American household every year.

Federal agencies have been frantically trying to finalize major regulations during Obama’s last few months in office. Businesses have bit hit with a flurry of new labor, healthcare and environmental regulations since last Fall’s regulatory agenda — and more are on the way.

For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized a regulation on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling in the name of curbing global warming. Environmentalists cheered the rule, but the industry was dismayed since methane emissions from drilling have fallen dramatically despite an increase in oil and gas production.

EPA estimates the rule will cost drillers $530 million but create net benefits of $690 million from reducing emissions.

There is one major difference between this Unified Agenda and past ones released by Obama — this one didn’t come on the eve of a major holiday.

Obama’s spring 2015 agenda detailing the status of more than 2,300 regulations was released the eve of Memorial Day weekend.

Obama’s fall 2014 agenda featuring more than 3,400 regulations was released the Friday before Thanksgiving.

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