President Obama promised he would use his pen and phone to push through his agenda in 2014. A new study shows Obama lived up to his promise, imposing $762 million in regulatory costs everyday the government was open last year.
A study by the center-right American Action Forum found the Obama administration imposed $181.5 billion in regulatory costs on the U.S. economy in 2014 from the 79,066 pages of new, proposed and final rules.
The massive wave of regulations impose costs of $692 per voter as well as $762 million in regulatory costs per day the government was open in 2014, according to AAF. Last year, federal regulators passed six rules that could cost more than $1 billion a year, along with 39 rulemakings that could cost over $100 million a year.
Republicans have opposed Obama’s use of executive orders and regulatory agencies to move policy, arguing his actions are intended to circumvent Congress and usurp its authority. Among the most contentious Obama administration actions was the Environmental Protection Agency’s push to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.
“The year was highlighted by EPA’s proposed “Clean Power Plan” (CPP), which the administration admitted would raise electricity prices by more than six percent by 2020, not to mention the $8.8 billion price tag,” wrote Sam Batkins, AAF’s director of regulatory policy.
The CPP requires states to come up with plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions from their power sectors. The rule is expected to accelerate coal-fired power plant shutdowns and raise retail electricity rates between 6 and 7 percent in the coming years.
The EPA says the rule will cut U.S. power sector emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The White House and its environmental allies say the rule is necessary to fight global warming and spur an international treaty.
“Amazingly, the CPP was not the most expensive measure in 2014. EPA’s proposed ozone rule, which could force dozens of state and national parks into non-attainment, could impose $15 billion in costs,” Batkins wrote.
The EPA’s ozone, or smog, rule was released over the holidays and could become the costliest clean air regulation ever proposed. One industry-backed study found the rule could cost some $3.4 trillion by 2040 if the ozone standard is lowered to 60 parts per billion.
The EPA, however, only proposed lowering ozone limits to a range of 65-70 parts per billion, but the agency said it would consider lowering it to 60 parts per billion. EPA officials said the rule would prevent 320,000 to 960,000 asthma attacks per year, along with “preventing more than 750 to 4,300 premature deaths; 1,400 to 4,300 asthma-related emergency room visits; and 65,000 to 180,000 missed workdays.”
But even with a slightly less stringent standard an AAF study from December found that more than 100 national and state parks would not be in compliance with the rule. AAF noted that these parks were “[h]ardly transportation corridors and centers of heavy pollution” and parks like “Death Valley National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Cape Cod National Seashore have ozone readings of 71 to 87 ppb” — which are above EPA ozone limits.
Aside from environmental rules, the Obama administration imposed new rules governing energy, banking, healthcare, transportation and food and drugs.
“The Year of Action lived up to President Obama’s promises. He wasn’t able to pass cap-and-trade legislation, so now EPA is proposing a measure that will add $8.8 billion in annual burdens to achieve the same end,” Batkins wrote. “DOE’s unheralded actions on efficiency will generate more than $67 billion in long-term burdens. The high level of proposed rule costs ($102 billion) likely means that 2015 will be yet another year of action.”
“What do these huge sums mean for individuals? Higher energy prices, pricier household goods, a more expensive mortgage, and the promise of yet another year of unrelenting regulatory growth. No one can accuse the President of abandoning his promises on regulation in 2014.”
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