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USDOT Claims $90B Saved via Deregulation

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

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The U.S. Department of Transportation announced last week that it has saved the economy and consumers about $90 billion in regulatory costs under the Trump Administration.

The DOT largely credits President Donald J. Trump’s “2-for-1” Executive Order 13771, which detailed that for every new regulation creation, at least two should be eliminated. DOT says that, at its peak, it was issuing 23 deregulatory actions for every new significant regulatory action “without compromising safety.”

At the Beginning

Shortly after the 2-for-1 order, Trump signed another executive order in February 2017 that established task forces within executive departments to identify regulations that might be ripe for repeal or modification. The task forces were given 90 days to report back with recommendations.

The Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Agenda called on executive agencies to designate one official as its Regulatory Reform Officer. The RRO worked with other agency officials on finding regulations on the books that the administration might want to eliminate in order to comply with the earlier executive order that required the elimination of two regulations for every new regulation put into place.

Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced last week that it has saved the economy and consumers about $90 billion in regulatory costs under the Trump Administration.

The order called on the RROs and their task forces to concentrate on rooting out regulations that:

  • Might be eliminating jobs or inhibiting job creation;
  • Are outdated or unnecessary;
  • Impose costs that exceed their benefits;
  • “Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives”;
  • Are inconsistent with section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 2001, which deals with the quality and objectivity of information disseminated by government entities; or
  • Derive from past executive orders that have since been rescinded.

The order affected all federal departments, but allowed for a waiver for agencies that could prove they rarely issue regulations.

Most Recently

The DOT announcement came quickly after the most recent—and arguably also the most high-profile—bout of deregulation, as Trump earlier this month finalized changes to the National Environmental Policy Act that aim to not only reduce the number of projects that require federal review, but also narrow the scope considered under those reviews.

The action comes after Trump signed an Executive Order last month advising federal agencies to expedite infrastructure investments and other activities as to accelerate the United States’ economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The final rules don’t deviate much from the proposals in January, and note that federal agencies no longer have to factor in “cumulative impacts” of a project, such as impacts on the environment or climate.

It also keeps the proposals of a two-year deadline for environmental impact statements and a one-year deadline for other environmental assessments. The rule also changes standards for commenting on judicial review, adding that any comment must also give negative economic and employment impacts of a project alongside any environmental concerns.

Energy and gas sectors applaud the rules, with American Gas Association President and CEO Karen Harbert saying, "A reformed permitting process will enable natural gas utilities to continue to deliver affordable and clean natural gas which will be essential for our nation's economic revival and achieving our shared environmental goals."

The wind sector supports the new review deadlines, according to American Wind Energy Association Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs Amy Farrell, but is overall opposed to limiting the review of environmental impacts.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler defended the policy, saying, "It does not address any of the underlying regulations or policies, those are all still in place. The main factor is it puts a two-year timeframe. If we can't work through the issues around a project within two years, then that's a problem because the private sector does that all the time.”

The Savings

USDOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in the press release that, since 2017, the DOT has achieved increasing cost savings every year and has reportedly already surpassed its Fiscal Year 2020 goal of $40 billion.

“Tackling overly bureaucratic, inflexible, outdated government regulations that don’t contribute to increased safety benefits the public, helps spur economic growth and creates jobs,” said Chao.

The DOT highlighted three reforms that took place this year, which include:

  • SAFE Vehicles Rule - issued with EPA, will reduce regulatory costs by as much as $163 billion and boost new vehicle sales by up to 2.7 million vehicles by model year 2029;
  • Hours of Service Rule - will reduce regulatory costs by more than $4 billion and provides relief and flexibility for commercial truck drivers; and
  • LNG by Rail - enhances energy infrastructure by enabling the safe transportation of liquefied natural gas by rail to more parts of the country where this energy source is needed.

The DOT also notes that it was the first Federal department to “codify reforms to its rulemaking, guidance and enforcement practices, which enhance transparency and strengthen due process.”

   

Tagged categories: Department of Transportation (DOT); Good Technical Practice; Laws and litigation; NA; North America; President Trump; Regulations

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (7/22/2020, 11:01 AM)

So says Mitch's wife, but I don't buy it. Our current government barely spends $90 B on the DOT in a single year, let alone saves that much by deregulation. Any one that thinks strict fuel efficient standards for cars is killing the car economy should look at the current value of Tesla, estimated to be more than Ford, GMC, and Fiat-Chrysler combined.


Comment from Andrew Piedl, (7/22/2020, 11:02 AM)

So says Mitch's wife, but I don't buy it. Our current government barely spends $90 B on the DOT in a single year, let alone saves that much by deregulation. Any one that thinks strict fuel efficient standards for cars is killing the car economy should look at the current value of Tesla, estimated to be more than Ford, GMC, and Fiat-Chrysler combined.


Comment from Robert Bullard, (7/22/2020, 3:07 PM)

Right Andrew - Save money by not funding (i. e., moving money to border wall or whatever), by value engineering with reduced life expectancy and/or increase maintenance/less serviceability and no significant long term costs/benefits considered (i. e., more truck stops on both interstate and other major new surface projects)


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