EPA will review regulations to eliminate 'unjustified burdens'

EPA will review 35 regulations under the final plan. Sixteen of those rules will be reviewed quickly, a process that could lead to “modifying, streamlining, expanding or repealing a regulation or related program during the 2011 calendar year,” EPA says. EPA will review the other 19 regulations over a longer time period.

Many of the regulations were identified in EPA’s proposed plan, which was released in May.

The agency says it will reduce reporting and recordkeeping for its gasoline and diesel rules, work with the Agriculture Department to establish “regulatory certainty for farmers” and better coordinate air pollution rules, among other things.

EPA says a “central goal” of its review is “reducing unjustified burdens and costs.”

In its final plan, EPA outlines four actions the agency has taken in recent months to streamline its regulations, including exempting industrial milk containers from oil-spill prevention rules and redesigning fuel economy labels. The four actions will save EPA as much as $360 million per year, the plan says.

In total, EPA’s regulatory reforms will save more than $1 billion in the coming years, EPA says.

“Taken as a whole, recent reforms, already finalized or formally proposed, are anticipated to save up to $1.5 billion over the next five years,” the plan says, noting that additional efforts outlined in the plan will save more money.

More broadly, EPA plans to use new technologies to make its regulations more efficient.

“High-speed information technologies allow real-time reporting of emissions and provide unprecedented opportunities for transparency and public involvement in matters affecting local environmental conditions,” the plan says. “These technological advances allow us to better track environmental progress, apply innovative approaches to compliance and reduce regulatory costs.”

EPA says it will continue to review its regulations every five years.

“On a predictable, transparent, five-year cycle, EPA intends to ask the public to nominate additional regulations for review and intends to commit to new reviews to supplement those described in this plan,” EPA says.

The final plan is in response to a January executive order by President Obama that instructed all federal agencies to review their regulations to determine whether they “should be modified, streamlined, expanded or repealed so as to make the agency’s regulatory program more effective or less burdensome in achieving the regulatory objectives.”

The administration is already getting pushback on its regulatory review plans. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday the plans do not go far enough.

“The administration’s findings and determinations, on their own, are a worthy effort at making technical changes to the regulatory process, but the results of this lookback will not have a material impact on the real regulatory burdens facing businesses today,” said Bill Kovacs, a senior vice president at the Chamber.

The American Petroleum Institute similarly gave the EPA effort a lukewarm review.

API’s Howard Feldman, on a call with reporters Tuesday, praised the agency’s decision to end requirements for certain vapor recovery systems at gasoline pumps due to onboard recovery systems in modern vehicles.

But like other business groups, API wants EPA to scuttle major planned ozone standards.

Feldman, API’s director of regulatory and scientific policy, reiterated allegations that the ozone standards will impose onerous emissions requirements on scores of businesses in areas that are out of attainment, leading to businesses contracting or moving overseas in some cases.

“With 25 million Americans unemployed or underemployed today, it is hard to understand why the administration is considering a standard so potentially harmful to the nation’s future prospects — and a standard that makes a mockery of the administration’s program to eliminate or modify rules that are unnecessarily costly or burdensome,” he said.

A slew of other federal agencies released their final regulatory review plans Tuesday. You can see them here.

Ben Geman contributed to this story.