Good Reason for Rules: Federal Safeguards save U.S. Up to $800 Billion per Year

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has a retort for government critics who frequently complain about regulations getting in the way of the economy: Many rules save more than they cost.


In a draft report on the benefits and costs of federal standards and safeguards, OMB says government rules over the past 10 years have produced estimated annual benefits ranging from $192.7 billion to $799.7 billion.


On the flip side, regulations cost somewhere between $56.6 billion and $83.7 billion.


Most of the monetary benefits and costs generated last year came from just two rules, according to OMB. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation limiting the amount of air pollution produced by coal-fired power plants resulted in reductions of childhood asthma, premature deaths from breathing polluted air, and the amount of mercury found in fish.


Another rule issued jointly by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation requiring automobiles to meet higher fuel efficiency standards lowered greenhouse gas emissions, generated fuel savings, promoted energy security, and provided other economic benefits.


In addition to the billions of dollars in benefits that OMB quantified, the agency says there are other non-monetary benefits derived from government rules.


“If a rule would reduce the incidence of rape, prevent the denial of health insurance to children with preexisting conditions, or allow wheelchair-bound workers to have access to bathrooms, a consideration of dignity is involved, and relevant law may require or authorize agencies to take that consideration into account,” OMB wrote.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

OMB Report: Standards and Safeguards Have Produced Vast Benefits at Minimal Cost (Center for Effective Government)

2013 Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations and Agency Compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (The White House) (pdf)

Obama on Pace to Match Bush’s Lengthy Federal Register Record: Ryan Young (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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