REPORT: Obama Rushes $44 Billion Worth Of Regs Before Leaving Office


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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The Obama administration could end up finalizing $75 billion worth of regulations before and after the president leaves office in January, according to a new report.

That includes $44 billion worth of “midnight” regulations published after election day, but before President Barack Obama leaves office on January 21. The right-leaning American Action Forum (AAF) compiled a list of 40 rules scheduled to be published in the Federal Register since November 2016.

“The $75 billion estimate contains roughly 40 monetized figures out of what will be hundreds of potential final rules,” Sam Batkins, AAF’s director of regulatory policy, wrote in a report on potential midnight regulations.

“It is unlikely regulators in the Obama Administration will have the opportunity to enact the full slate listed here,” Batkins wrote. “Still, there is a degree of uncertainty. The public does not know the cost of proposed rulemakings not yet published, nor the countless other rules that will be final in the coming weeks.”

Batkins’ list of upcoming regulations includes Department of Energy (DOE) regulations for home efficiency standards (a $5.5 billion price tag) and power supplies ($4.6 billion). DOE is also slated to publish really expensive conservation standards for boilers and ovens (each has a $800 million plus price tag).

The most expensive rule Batkins listed is a $13.3 billion Department of Health and Human Services rule to provide further protections for human test subjects.

The Obama administration has already gotten its main regulatory goals on the books, but federal agencies are still working to finish up all the regulations they can before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.

Most of these regulations probably won’t go into effect. Trump has promised to roll back many Obama-era regulations, especially those imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“On energy, I will cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy – including shale energy and clean coal – creating many millions of high-paying jobs,” Trump said in a video released by his transition team detailing executive actions the incoming president can issue the first day of his presidency.

While repealing regulations can take months or even years, regulatory experts have identified 150 rules Trump could repeal through executive orders, legislation or further rulemaking.

“This is the final regulatory agenda the administration will release,” Batkins wrote. “Its authors know too well that everything not yet final could come under scrutiny from President-elect Trump and the Republican Congress next year.”

“Although this agenda puts the finishing touches on what was an active eight years for regulators, the fate of many of these measures lies with the next Congress and the incoming administration,” Batkins wrote.

Federal agencies also list billions of dollars worth of rules scheduled for publishing after Obama leaves office. Those may not be published when Trump takes over.

“The agenda might reveal $44 billion in midnight regulations today, but they could vanish quickly in a series of votes or executive actions in 2017,” he wrote.

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