April 20, 2024

White House Offers Plan to Revamp Regulation


WASHINGTON The Obama administration said on Thursday that it would eliminate or rewrite hundreds of regulations to save businesses and consumers hundreds of millions of dollars a year, the first fruits of a review process announced in January.

Cass Sunstein, the Harvard law professor hired by President Obama to improve the regulatory process, highlighted some of the results of the review so far. One example he cited was the repeal of a rule classifying milk as a kind of oil, which required dairy farmers to handle their product with special care. That change by the Environmental Protection Agency will save an estimated $140 million a year, he said.

“Large benefits can come from seemingly modest small steps,” Mr. Sunstein in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute.

The results of preliminary reviews by 30 federal agencies, ranging from the Defense Department to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, were released Thursday and posted online at whitehouse.gov/regulatoryreform. The documents list a few changes already made, and invite comment on a host of proposals.

President Obama ordered federal agencies in January, with considerable fanfare, to hunt for rules that were outdated, duplicative or “just plain dumb.” The call, which has become a presidential tradition, is part of a broader effort by the administration to demonstrate engagement with business concerns.

Mr. Sunstein said costs imposed on businesses by the government were ultimately passed to their shareholders, employees and customers.

 Many of the proposed changes are highly technical, bureaucratic or mundane, but Mr. Sunstein offered a few chestnuts to highlight the effort.

  ¶ The E.P.A. will no longer require gas stations in some states to install pollution filters, because vehicles now are built with similar technology.

 ¶ The Interior Department will stop requiring written descriptions of the boundaries of the habitats of endangered species, accepting maps instead.

 ¶ The Treasury Department will remove language from its regulations that refers to Yugoslavia, a country that has not existed for some time.

 Many of the proposed changes, perhaps most, amount to reductions in paperwork. Mr. Sunstein said that kind of change should not be underestimated.

“Paperwork burden is no mere abstraction” for businesses, he said. “It often goes to the heart of the difficulty that regulation is causing for you when you’re trying to grow.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=4297bf3abc684189766fcb890433f330

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