Restraining The Regulatory State

From: Regulation / Spring 2017

A Regulatory Review Office could help Congress determine if new rules are benefiting the public.



Comprehensive regulatory review cannot be left to the judiciary because of the costs and time required to litigate thousands of agency rules with all of the due process requirements as each challenged rule winds its way through the federal courts—a phenomenon all too familiar. Thus, the best solution to the problem of excesses in the agencies’ exercise of delegated regulatory authority is to allow Congress to undertake regulatory reviews and, where appropriate, undo some of this delegation.


A new [Congressional] Regulatory Review Office could (and should) be instructed to undertake such retrospective reviews, particularly of very costly regulatory programs. How efficient and effective has the EPA’s regulation of abandoned
(“brownfield”) industrial sites been? Do NHTSA’s fuel-economy rules contribute positively to consumer welfare or would a gasoline tax or carbon tax be more efficient and effective? Obviously, such reviews would be costly and time-consuming, but their value could be substantial in directing future legislation and guiding regulators as they continue to struggle with implementing current laws.

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