OMB Finds Costs, Benefits of Major Rules Both Higher

The Office of Management and Budget, a White House agency that can act as a brake on federal rules, has released its 2007 report to Congress on the costs and benefits of federal regulations. The draft report shows the slowdown of federal regulations during George W. Bush's presidency and says the average yearly cost of major regulations issued during his administration is about 47 percent less and the average yearly benefit is more than double what occurred during the previous 20 years. Looking specifically at rules issued from Oct. 1, 1996 to Sept. 30, 20006, OMB said both estimated annual costs and estimated annual benefits are higher than calculated last year, largely because of EPA's particulate matter rule affecting National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The report (www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/2007_cb/2007_draft_cb_report.pdf) shows EPA has been busiest among all major federal agencies during the period. While HUD, Education, and Justice issued only one major rule each during the period, EPA issued 39, DOT issued 15, HHS issued 17, and Labor issued five. The five Labor rules impose estimated annual costs of $593 million to $602 million and achieve estimated annual benefits of $1.173 billion to $4.302 billion, according to the report.

It says the particulate matter rule will yield estimated average annual benefits of $4 billion to $40 billion, against estimated average annual costs of $2.5 billion to $2.8 billion. A major rule, as defined by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, is one that has an impact of at least $100 million annually on the U.S. economy.

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