The methane rule leads to a busy week


After a relative lull the week before, the past week saw a noticeable increase in regulatory activity. There were 17 regulations with a measurable economic impact, cost reduction and cost increase. A proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding methane emissions, however, provided the vast majority of the week’s regulatory impact. Across all regulations, agencies released $ 6.5 billion in total net costs and added 1.4 million hours of paperwork annually.


  • Proposed rules: 41
  • Final rules: 63
  • 2021 Total number of pages: 66,046
  • 2021 Final Rule costs: $ 19.9 billion
  • Costs of the proposed rule for 2021: $ 192.2 billion


The most important action released last week was the EPA’s decision proposed rule re “Performance Standards for New, Rebuilt and Modified Sources and Emission Guidelines for Existing Sources: A Review of the Oil and Gas Sector Climate”. The proposal, which was technically released earlier this month, marks the Biden administration’s most notable action on methane emissions to date. The American Action Forum (AAF) has detailed the details of rule making here. The EPA estimates that the rule’s requirements would cost affected entities $ 6.3 billion from 2023 to 2035.

In terms of cost reduction measures, the most significant action was a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposal on “Transfer of electronic prescriptions for controlled substances in schedules II to V between pharmacies for initial filling”. As the title suggests, the proposed rule would amend DEA regulations to clarify the circumstances under which pharmacies can transfer electronic prescriptions for initial refills between themselves. The last time the DEA reviewed regulatory practice was in 2010, so in light of market trends and some policy developments since then (such as legislation requiring certain opioid prescriptions to take a form. electronic security), the agency is seeking to review its conditions. While there will still be costs to report these transfers to the DEA (1.25 million hours of paperwork in total), the agency estimates that the proposal could save the affected entities around $ 90 million by returning the more efficient overall process.


As we have already seen in the executive orders and memos, the Biden administration will surely offer many contrasts with the Trump administration on a regulatory level. And while the new administration is generally expected to seek a comprehensive restoration of Obama-style regulatory measures, there will also be areas where it will chart its own course. From the AAF RegRodeo With data dating back to 2005, it is possible to provide weekly updates on how high-level trends in President Biden’s regulatory record track those of his two most recent predecessors. The following table provides the running totals of the final rules containing some quantified economic impact of each jurisdiction up to that point in their respective terms.

With the most impactful rule-making of the week to come on the proposed rules side, the final rule the Biden administration’s tally has seen only modest increases. Its two predecessors, however, experienced notable developments in mid-November 2017 and 2009, respectively. For the Trump administration, after a week of its paperwork total plunging net-negative, that number has climbed back to nearly nine million hours on the net-positive side of the ledger. A consumer financial protection office to reign payday loans provided the bulk of this increase. For the Obama administration – in a small reversal of roles – there has been a noticeable decrease in regulatory burdens. An APE to reign Changing spill prevention standards was the main driver of this trend with cost reductions of $ 95 million and 1.3 million hours of paperwork less.


This week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is trying to strengthen its vaccine mandate.

On November 18, OSHA issued a “ratification” opinion in the Federal Register in an attempt to cut short an argument in legal challenges against his Vaccination and COVID-19 test; Temporary emergency standard (ETS).

The ETS was signed by James Frederick, who was OSHA’s Interim Administrator at the time of the ETS’s publication. In lawsuits challenging the ETS, some have challenged its authority to sign it. “Out of caution,” Labor Secretary Martin Walsh issued the notice of ratification saying he had independently reviewed the rule and agrees it is necessary. The action is designed to strengthen OSHA’s authority to issue the standard in pending litigation.

It is not known whether the ratification will help OSHA’s case, or even matter. On November 12, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a to stay on the rule and ordered OSHA to “take no action to implement or enforce the mandate until further court order.” This ordinance revealed many legal issues with OSHA’s ETS, but did not say whether Frederick had the authority to issue it.

Instead, the court found other loopholes. The court finds that OSHA is unlikely to have the power to issue “general public health statements.” Even if this is the case, the ETS is both too inclusive – covering all industries – and sub-inclusive – not applicable to companies with less than 100 employees. The sub-inclusive aspects of the HTA undermined its over-inclusive nature, which raised doubts as to its necessity.

Courts have historically been skeptical of ETS and generally only support them when they are narrowly targeted. The court’s opinion, on the other hand, calls the ETS a “one-size-fits-all hammer”. The court also found that OSHA cannot show that the dangers of COVID exist in all workplaces, and several other legal flaws in the ETS.

While OSHA will appeal the suspension decision, that issue and the merits of the case will be determined by the Sixth Circuit, which “won»A draw this week to determine which circuit court will hear the consolidated disputes at the ETS (of which there are many).


As of January 1, the federal government has released $ 212.1 billion in total net costs (including $ 19.9 billion in new costs from finalized rules) and 135.3 million hours of net annual increase in burden. paperwork (with 127.6 million hours of final rule increases).

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