How to Escape from our Regulatory Winter

We all want clean air and water. But we all live in a world requiring balancing of competing interests, of compromise, of trade-offs. And we are accountable for the choices we make.  Congress should be accountable for the laws it passes.

We all want clean air and clean water—but we want the lights to stay on and a light bill we can afford to pay.  We want our business and industry to flourish and create jobs, act responsibly, be profitable and pay taxes. These things are not too much to ask as a reasonable balancing of business, environmental and public interests.

But the way Congress enacts sweeping laws with little accountability for their impact and then enables and abets an out of control Federal regulatory regime with NO ACCOUNTABILITY for the impacts or implications of the rules it publishes is unreasonable and increasingly unacceptable to the rest of us who see our country and our jobs going down the same sewer. 

This problem is not hard to fix but it is not in the re-election interests of our politicians to do so—that is why Congress has a miserable and well deserved sewer-level approval rating.

Here’s the fix:

  1. When Congress passes a bill that requires regulations to enforce, upon the approval of the Bill by the President the statute goes to the applicable Federal agencies to propose the rules needed and prepare a cost benefit analysis based upon standard methodology applicable to all rulemakings.
  2. Proposed rules and cost benefit study goes to an independent Administrative Law judge at OMB, the Office of Management and Budget, who must determine whether the proposed regulations are by the preponderance of the evidence consistent with congressional intent, reasonably balance the equitable competing interests of the parties to the proceeding and are in the public interest by balancing the costs and benefits.  If NO, the proposed rules are rejected by the ALJ telling the Federal agencies to start over. If YES, the ALJ sends the proposed rules back to Congress for approval.
  3. Congress has 90 days from receipt of the ALJs Recommendation to consider the proposed rules.   If Congress fails to act in an up or down vote to approve the proposed rules within 90 days the rules fail and the law is declared unenforceable and no public money may be expended nor penalties imposed under this bill.
  4. This Procedure also applies to any new rule or rules amendment under any existing law expected to cost $100 million or more for compliance. The ALJ is responsible for assuring that the Federal Agencies are doing a reasonable job of calculating the cost benefit analysis consistent with the standard methodology.  It also applies to any amendments to existing rules including but not limited to each and every environmental, energy,  financial services, public lands use law or other laws now in effect.  In any proceeding where a rules amendment or new rule is proposed the ALJ may also require the parties to address conflicts in existing rules and propose modifications  to remedy those conflicts to make the rules consistent with the requirement to reasonably balance the competing interests of affected parties in the public interest.
  5. Sunset Review of Regulations.  Every rule adopted must include a specific schedule for the expiration and reconsideration  of the rule.  The sunset period would be no less than three years or no more than ten years from the adoption of the rule.  Any amendment of an existing rule that triggers the $100 million cumulative impact of this procedure shall automatically trigger a sunset reconsideration of the entire rule.  Any existing rule not triggering this automatic review shall be scheduled for review every ten years, and if the sunset review is not concluded by a re-authorization by Congress within one year of such ten year anniversary the rule shall be considered repealed and unenforceable.

There ends the rant!