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Comments on Preliminary Plans for Periodic Retrospective Reviews of Existing Regulations

In January, President Obama issued a call for all federal agencies to review their existing regulations, looking for rules that had grown outdated, ineffective, or insufficient over time. Back then, there was much discussion over whether the move was a gift to business or a robust defense of strong protections even in a downturned economy.

Recently, EPA and other agencies have released their proposed plans for retrospective review, and today, Policy Integrity has submitted comments in response.

Our comments recommend that EPA select rules for review if circumstances have changed or if there is updated data on costs and benefits. For example, has technology improved since the rule was created, making compliance cheaper or easier?

Also, EPA should have made more of an effort to take this retrospective review as an opportunity to evaluate areas of agency inaction, perhaps by including a chance for revisiting recent public petitions for rulemaking and other indicators of potential regulatory gaps.

These, in addition to other suggestions, might have made EPA’s plan stronger. In their current form, there is too little in EPA’s proposal that suggests review efforts will strive to enhance cumulative net regulatory benefits. As it stands, the agency has focused too narrowly on paperwork reductions and appealed too directly to specific business interests.

We have also submitted comments to a number of other agencies in regards to their preliminary plans for the retrospective review process, including HHS, HUD, and State.