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Reg agencies ordered to review, toss outdated and burdensome rules (1/18)

January 18, 2011
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President Barak Obama today signed an Executive Order requiring federal regulatory agencies to review their regs, with the goal of eliminating outdated or unnecessary rules that stifle economic growth and unfairly burden small businesses.

According to a White House press release, the order is part of a regulatory strategy aimed at supporting economic growth and job creation while continuing to protect the public. It calls on the agencies to increase transparency, coordinate with each other to reduce costs and “promote certainty,” and base rules on objective scientific evidence.

Noting that regulations can impose disproportionately high burdens on small businesses, the White House said that, under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the agencies can extend compliance dates, simplify reporting of compliance standards and even issue exemptions for small companies. When agencies do not use such alternatives, they'll have to provide written justification for not doing so.

Achieving the balance described in the order – a regulatory system that protects public health, welfare, safety, and the environment while also promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation – will not be easy, judging by reactions from various sectors.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue called the order a positive first step, but said that larger changes are needed – some of which could be made by Congress curtailing the power of regulatory agencies.

The American Manufacturers Association (AMA) agreed that regulations that are costing jobs should be eliminated. AMA Senior Vice President for Government Regulations and Policy Aric Newhouse pointed to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposals to regulate greenhouse gases as “a real threat to America’s job creators.”

The EPA’s authority to regulate pollution has already been targeted by several bills introduced earlier this month in the House – an effort sharply criticized by environmental groups.

According to Franz A. Matzner, Climate and Air legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, “It would be irresponsible for lawmakers to abolish the EPA’s ability to cut carbon pollution, leaving polluters free to dump into our air without limit.”

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