MEAT CLEAVER OR SCALPEL?

Posted on November 22, 2017 by Annette Kovar

It’s been a long time coming. Regulatory reform is on the agenda again and maybe it’s real this time. Spawned by a quantitative “snapshot” of the state’s regulatory text developed by researchers at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Nebraska is embarking on a comprehensive review of its state regulations, including environmental regulations.  EPA has also been directed to take a critical look at its regulations.

Whether or not one agrees with all the methods used or conclusions drawn by regulatory reformers, it’s hard to disagree with the basic premise that the sheer amount of current regulation is daunting. Maybe the time has come to examine whether we can consolidate or even eliminate some requirements that have been on the books for years even though no one really knows why. Maybe the underlying problems that were meant to be addressed by many of our current regulations don’t occur anymore.  Maybe some regulations were developed based on worst case scenarios, oftentimes because there was a reluctance to leave anything to the discretion of the implementing environmental agency.

Process improvement and streamlining are hot topics these days in government circles, and I’m all for that! I do not favor being less protective of the environment, but I am for eliminating the complexity and multiplicity of paperwork, for making regulations easier to read and understand, for providing helpful guidance rather than just paraphrasing statutes, and for rethinking traditional paradigms and coming up with something more user-friendly. In short, it make sense to me to examine whether we need all the regulations now on the books and to think about streamlining and clarifying the regulations that we do need.



Comments (2) -

Donald W. Stever United States
11/22/2017 11:24:18 AM #

Unfortunately the people in charge of protecting the environment at the federal level are clearly and unabashedly interested more in having the environmental legal and regulatory regime becoming , in your words, "less protective of the environment", than they are in "eliminating the complexity of paperwork" or "making regulations easier to read and understand".   Sorry to throw cold water on your thesis.

Don Stever

Robert Burr United States
11/22/2017 12:22:56 PM #

I second the comments of Don Stever.  If a regulatory review is driven by an executive branch either at the local, state, and federal level, then beware of bias.  If such a review is to be done, the direction and oversight must come from a legislative branch with much public review and should occur over an election cycle.

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