Earlier this month, ACA signed onto a U.S. Chamber of Commerce coalition letter urging Congress to pass several bills that comprise a regulatory reform package being offered by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bundling of reform bills — the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Jobs Creation Act — was at press time scheduled for debate on the House floor this week. On July 20, some 60 amendments offered to the bills by House Democrats to temper the reform package were submitted to the House Rules Committee, which will determine which amendments may be offered on the floor.
ACA believes that the legislation would reduce the regulatory burden on businesses and promote policy that would help jumpstart our economy. ACA supported two reform bills passed in April by theHouse Oversight and Government Reform Committee that would place a moratorium on all new federal rules and bar President Obama and future presidents from issuing “midnight regulations” at the end of their terms.
In its letter, ACA supported passage of the reform bills, noting that together they “would streamline the federal permitting process, impose transparency on the abused sue and settle process used by agencies and environmental groups to circumvent the rulemaking process, and to prohibit agencies from proposing or finalizing major midnight regulations. The common sense reforms in these bills would make the nation’s regulatory process more transparent, efficient, and workable for businesses that create jobs and contribute to economic growth.”
The reform bills that are expected to be considered include the following:
H.R. 4377, the “Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act of 2012.” The RAPID Act would provide a streamlined process for developers to obtain environmental permits and approvals for their projects in a timely and efficient manner, allowing jobs to be created and the economy to grow. Millions of jobs are never created because of a dysfunctional permitting system that stalls or cancels major projects. For example, 351 stalled energy projects reviewed in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce 2010 study had a total economic value of over $1 trillion and represented 1.9 million American jobs not created.
H.R. 3862, the “Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2012.” Environmental advocacy groups sue federal agencies to issue regulations and then agencies settle these lawsuits behind closed doors. Only after a settlement has been agreed to does the public have a chance to provide any comments. This is a pointless exercise because the damagee has already been done. Still troubling, these settlements often allow advocacy groups and agencies to effectively dictate major policy on their own by circumventing the protections that exist for public participation in our regulatory system. The “Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2012” would promote openness and transparency in the regulatory process by requiring agencies to notify the public of these lawsuits before they are settled and giving the public a meaningful voice in the process.
H.R. 4607, the “Midnight Rule Relief Act of 2012.” When there is a lame-duck President, agencies rush rules through the regulatory process after a presidential election and prior to the inauguration of a new President (the so-called “midnight period”). Rules issued during this lame-duck period lead to poorly considered policy due to the rushed process and the lack of accountability imposed on lame-duck Presidents. The “Midnight Rule Relief Act of 2012” would address the problem of midnight rules by prohibiting agencies from proposing or finalizing major rules during the midnight period.
H.R. 4078, the “Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012.” The most costly and significant regulations hinder economic growth and job creation. The “Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012” would prohibit agencies from issuing the most costly and significant rules until the unemployment rate drops to 6 percent or less.
H.R. 373, the “Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2012.” The “Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2012” would improve upon and help fulfill the promise of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995. The new legislation would provide Congress and the public with better information on the effects of unfunded mandates, including those imposed on the private sector.
The Obama administration has argued that it has taken a balanced regulatory approach that maintains environmental and public health protections while also considering the burdens imposed by existing regulations. In January 2011 President Obama issued an executive order (Exec. Order No. 13,563) directing federal agencies and departments to review and revise existing rules to make their regulatory programs more effective or less burdensome.