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White House announces new, less 'burdensome' regulatory approach

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White House announces new, less 'burdensome' regulatory approach

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President Barack Obama Tuesday announced a new regulatory strategy thatdesigned to reduce the burden federal clean-air mandates and other executivebranch rulemakings have on American businesses and the US economy.

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In an executive order titled "Improving Regulation and RegulatoryReview," Obama said executive branch entities such as the EnvironmentalProtection Agency must, among other things, "tailor" regulations "to imposethe least burden on society." Agencies also must "consider costs andbenefits and choose the least burdensome path," the White House said in a factsheet on the new policy.

"Regulations do have costs," Obama wrote in an op-ed column in The WallStreet Journal announcing the new strategy. "Sometimes, those rules havegotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business -- burdensthat have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth andjobs."

Republican lawmakers and business advocacy groups such as the US Chamberof Commerce have long complained that the Obama administration is stifling jobgrowth by overly burdensome federal regulations. Chief among these are thefirst-ever greenhouse-gas regulations that EPA put into effect on January 2for electric utilities, oil refineries and other smokestack industries.

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader of the USHouse of Representatives, praised Obama's new regulatory approach, saying theAmerican people "are sick and tired of Washington's excessive overreach andoverspending."

But Cantor said the White House must go even further by preventing"pending detrimental rules and regulations from going into effect."

"I urge agencies government-wide to heed our call and work quickly,"Cantor said. "We must tear down self-imposed obstacles to economic growth andwealth creation."

On a conference call to detail the new regulatory approach, two seniorWhite House officials sidestepped several questions about what the new policywould mean for the first-ever GHG regulations that EPA put in place earlierthis month. The officials said only that EPA would be required to examine theimpact of those regulations to ensure that they are based in the leastburdensome approach.

Obama's new policy emphasizes that agencies may not modify or scrapregulations if doing so would have a detrimental impact on human health or theenvironment.

"Our regulatory system must protect public health, welfare, safety, andour environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness,and job creation," Obama's order states.

Obama's order applies to existing regulations as well as pending rules.The order gives agencies 120 days to formulate plans outlining how they willreview their "existing significant regulations to determine whether any suchregulations should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed."

-- Brian Hansen, brian_hansen@platts.com

Similar stories appear in Inside Energy. See more information at http://bit.ly/InsideEnergy