The wheels of the regulatory process turn slowly, partly because the process is full of important opportunities for input from the public and regulated entities. But it’s also slow because it is rife with opportunities for diversion by advocates whose interests are served by delay, and because the Washington regulatory apparatus has simply grown accustomed to missed deadlines and overly lengthy review periods.
Slow-motion regulating often served the purposes of the Bush Administration. But the Obama Administration came to power with the stated objective of reinvigorating regulatory safeguards for health, safety, the environment, and more. And with regulatory timelines spanning years, not months, the Administration’s commitment would suggest the need for a certain sense of urgency. But two years into the Administration, with a new presidential campaign starting to gear up and the end of the President’s first term in sight, a report from a group of CPR Member Scholars and staff identified nine critical rules in danger of not emerging from the pipeline in time.
The report, Twelve Crucial Health, Safety, and Environmental Regulations: Will the Obama Administration Finish in Time?, notes that the failure to complete work on the nine endangered rules “would not be the consequence of congressional interference or other political opposition, but a flat out failure of the Administration to get its work done in a timely manner – a straightforward unforced error with potentially huge consequences.”
The nine rules described in the report as in danger of not being finished are:
The report says that three factors will play an outsized role in whether the Administration finishes in time: delays from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, needlessly protracted deliberations by the agencies themselves, and pressure from anti-regulatory interests.
The report’s authors are CPR Member Scholars Rena Steinzor and Amy Sinden and CPR Policy Analysts Matthew Shudtz, James Goodwin, Yee Huang, and Lena Pons. A number of CPR scholars, acknowledged in the report, also contributed their expertise on particular regulatory issues.