By Jon Dougherty

(NationalSentinel) The inspector general for the Environmental Protection Agency says the EPA has surpassed President Donald Trump’s deregulatory expectations and goals in cutting red tape and striking down expensive, onerous rules but in doing so bypassed important management controls.

You may recall that within a few days of his inauguration in January 2017, one of the president’s first executive actions was to instruct the federal bureaucracy to cut two rules for every new rule proposed and implemented. In fact, the president said he would like to see a reduction in federal regulations of at least 75 percent and “maybe more,” but promised to do so in a way that would still ensure good stewardship of the environment and public health and safety.

Executive Order 13771 required agencies to cut two regulations for every new regulation they introduced and Executive Order 13777 mandated that agencies establish a task force and designate an officer to implement the first executive order,” Government Executive reported.

The EPA IG released a report August 9 finding that indeed, the agency surpassed the president’s deregulation and savings goals for 2017 and 2018. “However, the IG found that EPA’s deregulatory process lacked guidance, or management controls, and was not sufficiently transparent in its decision making,” the site noted further, adding:

Besides a March 2017 memo from then-Administrator Scott Pruitt that established a regulatory reform task force, the agency relied solely on two guidance documents from the Office of Management and Budget to implement the executive orders, according to the watchdog. In 2017, EPA saved $21.5 million by cutting 16 regulations and adding one new one; in 2018, the agency saved $75.1 million by cutting 10 regulations and adding three new ones.

The regulations EPA cut resulted in the removal of various air quality standards, reduction in compliance standards for chemical safety, reduced public notice on sewer overflow into the Great Lakes and fewer reporting requirements for hazardous waste materials. 

“The EPA’s success in exceeding the ‘two-for-one’ ratio is not unique” since several other agencies have also done so, the IG noted. In 2017, the Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs departments all slashed regulations without adding any new ones. While some of those added new regulations in 2018, many still exceeded the administration’s deregulation goals. 

As for the EPA, the IG found the agency had a number of problems with transparency regarding the manner in which officials made regulation-cutting decisions:

First, EPA only included two of the five required OMB performance indicators in its annual performance plan for 2019—the number of regulations and deregulations issued, and the cost savings associated with them—but did not report the number of evaluations to identify potential actions, deregulatory actions recommended by the task force and the number of regulations issued in response to the task force. 

Secondly, the watchdog found it was difficult for the public to monitor regulatory actions since EPA’s website does not provide sufficient information. The executive order required a 90-day progress report, which the agency completed but did not make publicly available (only EPA’s political leadership had access to the document). Lastly, some staff members did not know about the status of executive order recommendations or were not given feedback on regulatory or deregulatory actions they proposed. 

It appears as though the violations are technical and procedural, however, and not the kind that would violate the president’s directive to cut back on regulations while still maintaining safe environmental standards.

That said, it appears as though the administration’s claim in January that it saved American taxpayers $18 billion last year alone is accurate, given the fact that federal agencies are surpassing the president’s regulations-cutting objective.

Federal agencies slashed $18 billion in regulatory costs in 2018, saving taxpayers about $8 billion by cutting out old rules and redundancies, many imposed by the Obama regime.

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“For the first time since the American Action Forum (AAF) began tracking final regulations published in the Federal Register (going back to 2005), federal agencies published net regulatory cost savings for a calendar year,” an analytical report by the organization said.

“AAF research found that in 2018 federal agencies finalized 324 regulations with estimated costs, savings, or paperwork impacts (the criteria for tracking on resulting in cost savings of $7.8 billion. The agencies added 9.9 million hours of paperwork,” said the analysis.

“We’re here today for one single reason: to cut the red tape of regulation,” POTUS Trump said in December 2017 at an event in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, standing before several reams of paper as tall as him.

Good news about the administration is hard to come by, given the mainstream media’s focus on inane, false, narrative-driven coverage of this president. By all accounts, though, he is keeping his promise to cut economy-draining, job-killing red tape.

It’s not sexy, but cutting regs has a definite positive, but often unseen, effect on our lives and the economy.

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