Federal regulations pose a large cost on the economy and taxpayers. Fortunately, in 2000, Congress passed a major piece of legislation that makes government more transparent when it passed the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act. Under this law, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) must submit a report on the costs of “major rules” every year.
These reports allow citizens and lawmakers to see how much the federal government’s rules impact the economy, and make unelected bureaucrats accountable. These reports help stem the growth of big government by allowing Congress to prevent future government expansion before it starts.
Usually, the OMB publishes its annual report in the spring. However, this year the OMB was unusually late and did not release this year’s report until October 16, later than ever before. Coincidentally, the report was released only after the EPA’s job-killing Clean Power Plan was finalized and published in the Federal Register.
The report highlighted the costs of 120 federal regulations in a 10-year period from 2004-2014, costing about $100 billion per year.
In particular, the EPA is by far the most expensive and active federal agency. The EPA leads the pack in both the number and costs of new regulations. From 2004 – 2014, the EPA passed 32 major rules, costing more than $45 billion annually. The EPA is responsible for more than a third of all regulations and almost half the costs of all the regulations included in the OMB report.
The costs of the EPA from this report should not be taken at face value. The OMB’s report is somewhat deceiving because it only reports a sliver of all federal regulations. The agency effectively picks and chooses which regulations to review because the law only requires the OMB to report on “major rules”. For example, this report only included 13 rules published in 2014, out of the total 3,581 that year.
The costs of these unreported rules add up to billions. In fact, the Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates that the OMB has left out more than $35 billion of annual costs since 2002 from other important and expensive, yet not “major” regulations. Thus, the true cost of the EPA’s endless regulation is much, much greater than the government reports.
In the race to regulate the economy, the EPA is the clear winner. The EPA leads the pack in both number and cost of regulation. It is evident that these regulations hold back economic growth and kill jobs. The government’s role should not be to continuously intervene in the economy with regulatory policy, yet that is precisely what these unelected bureaucrats aim to do with endless regulation.
Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program and David