Week in Regulation

EPA Proposals Rule the Week

Nearly a month in now, the start of 2024 continues to see a steady flow of significant regulatory actions. There has, so far, not been a week with less than a billion dollars in total estimated costs. Last week brought a dozen rules that contained some quantifiable economic impact. Two of these actions, both from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), crossed the billion-dollar threshold in terms of potential costs. Across all rulemakings, agencies published $4.6 billion in total costs and added 126,161 annual paperwork burden hours.


  • Proposed Rules: 32
  • Final Rules: 72
  • 2024 Total Pages: 5,409
  • 2024 Final Rule Costs: $6.9 billion
  • 2024 Proposed Rule Costs: $9.3 billion


The most consequential rulemakings of the week were EPA’s two proposed regarding “Clean Water Act Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Meat and Poultry Products Point Source Category” and “Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources and Emission Guidelines for Existing Sources: Large Municipal Waste Combustors Voluntary Remand Response and 5-Year Review.” The former focuses on waste run-off emanating from meat-processing facilities and the agency currently estimates that it will involve roughly $3 billion in lifetime costs. The latter seeks to update emissions standards for certain trash incinerator facilities and brings an estimated $1.2 billion in total costs.


As we have already seen from executive orders and memos, the Biden Administration will surely provide plenty of contrasts with the Trump Administration on the regulatory front. And while there is a general expectation that the current administration will seek to broadly restore Obama-esque regulatory actions, there will also be areas where it charts its own course. Since the AAF RegRodeo data extend back to 2005, it is possible to provide weekly updates on how the top-level trends of President Biden’s regulatory record track with those of his two most recent predecessors. The following table provides the cumulative totals of final rules containing some quantified economic impact from each administration through this point in their respective terms.The most significant actions of the week came in the form of proposed rules. As such, there was minimal movement in the Biden Administration’s final rule cost and paperwork totals. For the other two administrations, the only real shift in the totals came in the Obama-era cost tally. A Department of Agriculture rule regarding “Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs” provided the bulk of the roughly $3.2 billion cost increase during late January 2012.


This week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a proposed rule on airplane safety disclosure requirements that has some curious timing implications.Source: Photo by Calle Macarone on Unsplash

Last Thursday, FAA published a proposed rule entitled “Disclosure of Safety Critical Information.” As the rulemaking’s summary details, the proposal seeks to “implement certain mandates in the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act of 2020 by requiring applicants for, and holders of, new and amended transport category airplane type certificates to submit, and subsequently continue to disclose, certain safety critical information to the FAA.” In particular, the relevant statutory language calls for the disclosure of the following aspects of safety information:Given the recent news regarding airliner safety issues, this may seem like a timely regulatory response. In fact, the underlying statute and rulemaking in question stem from incidents involving Boeing 737 MAX safety failures. The catch, however, is that these instigating events did not happen in recent weeks, but rather years ago. Recall again that the statutory directives came by way of the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act of 2020.

One may then think that perhaps these more recent developments have directly spurred FAA into action on regulatory items that time simply forgot. A cursory examination of the agency’s regulatory agenda also complicates that narrative. FAA had plans to propose this rulemaking last year. The agency’s most recent projection had this proposal scheduled for publication this coming March. These Unified Agenda entries suggest that such a rulemaking has actively been in the works for some time now.

Now, perhaps these recent Boeing 737 MAX issues have provided additional incentive to FAA to act more expeditiously on such items. And to be sure, it is difficult to say how such a rulemaking would have materially affected how recent events unfolded. If anything, though, this proposal stands as another example (in the transportation sector, no less) of how policymakers – particularly on the administrative side – should make sure currently required safety programs are fully implemented in a timely fashion before using the crisis of the day to justify any number of new regulatory dictates.

Interested parties have until March 25, 2024, to submit comments on the proposal.


Since January 1, the federal government has published $16.2 billion in total net costs (with $6.9 billion in new costs from finalized rules) and 4.8 million hours of net annual paperwork burden increases (with 2.6 million hours coming from final rules).


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