House Speaker John Boehner is asking President Obama to publish a list of all “present and planned rulemakings” that would impact the economy by more than $1 billion each. Boehner’s letter comes three days after the administration announced that it would review a raft of existing regulations with the aim of saving business more than $10 billion over five years.

Boehner noted that the administration acknowledges planning 219 regulations that have estimated annual costs of $100 million or more each, the official definition of a “major rule.” Many regulations go far beyond that threshold, he said.

“I was startled to learn that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that at least one of its proposed rules will cost our economy as much as $90 billion per year,” Boehner wrote, referring to a pending EPA regulation on ozone.  The administration should specify which other rules will cost more than $1 billion, Boehner wrote.

The administration announced Tuesday the results of a government-wide review of existing regulations including an analysis by each department of rules that it could revamp, streamline, or eliminate.  According to Investors’ Business Daily (IBD), the department’s plan actually eliminates very few regulations.  “In nearly all cases, they called for streamlining or other efforts to make them more efficient,” IBD said. “Few regulations will be scrapped.”

What appears to be the largest change proposed by USDA involves generic approval of the labels on meat and poultry products by the Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS).  “The rule proposes to expand the circumstances in which the labels of meat and poultry products will be deemed to be generically approved by FSIS. The rule also proposes to combine the regulations that provide for the approval of labels for meat and poultry products into a new part in Title 9 CFR,”  USDA said in its report.

USDA said the rule will save 73,730 person-hours when implemented.  The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register in December 2011, the agency said.

USDA said it would literally reduce paperwork in the certification of foreign establishments eligible to ship meat, poultry, and egg products to the United States by consolidating foreign inspection certificates and switching to electronic transmittal. “The cost to electronically transmit foreign inspection certifications is much less than the cost of the paper-based process,” the agency said.

The U.S. Department of Labor said the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) would consider certain changes in its hazard communication program that would make life easier for private-sector personnel.

“OSHA’s preliminary estimate is that establishing a harmonized system for the classification and labeling of chemicals will create a substantial annualized savings for employers ranging from $585 million to $798.4 million,” the agency said. “The majority of these benefits will be realized through increases in productivity for health and safety managers as well as for logistics personnel with savings ranging from $472 million to $569 million.”

The business community seemed unimpressed by the government’s efforts.

Bill Kovacs, a senior vice president at the United States Chamber of Commerce, said the administration’s efforts were “worthy” but  “will not have a material impact on the real regulatory burdens facing businesses today.”

Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA), the House majority leader, said the effort was “underwhelming.”

Washington had other things on its mind when the White House released its report.  It came out on Tuesday, the same day the city and the mid-Atlantic region was startled by an unaccustomed earthquake.

 

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