Obama Administration Preparing Flood of New Regulations

by Sterling Beard

The Obama administration is preparing to roll out a wave of new regulations next year, covering everything from fracking to e-cigarettes, in an attempt to get rules in place before the president’s second term ends.

A semiannual summary of regulatory actions in the works, which the Office of Management and Budget published last week, reveals a full agenda. For example, the Interior Department is expected to issue a final rule for fracking on federal lands in May and the Environmental Protection Agency should propose performance standards for greenhouse-gas emissions for coal-fired power plants a month later. The White House has also been evaluating proposed Food and Drug Administration regulations on e-cigarettes.

The Federal Aviation Administration is also expected to propose rules for civilian operation of drones and banking regulators will vote on the Volcker rule, which prohibits banks from using their own money to bet speculatively.

This is no surprise; the Obama administration has outpaced both the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations when it comes to approving economically significant regulations – those that have an annual economic impact of more than $100 million. Obama’s administration has approved 240 such rules compared to 191 by the Bush administration and 188 by Clinton’s during the same time period.

According to an OMB draft report from April, the rules have cost $46.3 billion annually compared to $9.4 billion and $9.5 billion per year under Bush and Clinton, respectively. However, the study also said that the net benefits—such as lowered health-care spending thanks to environmental regulations—accrued under Obama’s regulations were nearly four times more than those accumulated under Bush.

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