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Chamber CEO Renews Call to Rein in Regulatory System

Regulation of all kinds, including rules governing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and other energy practices, have gotten out of control and many outdated regulations need to be repealed, according to Thomas Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"We must lift the veil of uncertainty hanging over every business and investor if we want to revive our economy and create the jobs and opportunities Americans badly need," Donohue said Wednesday at a meeting of the Chamber's environment, technology and regulatory affairs division in Washington, DC. "Nothing contributes more to this stifling uncertainty than a regulatory system that has lost its balance and common sense."

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, as well as President Obama's Affordable Care Act, each have prompted hundreds of new rulemakings, Donohue said.

"Meanwhile, EPA [the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] is working on a massive study of hydraulic fracturing to be completed as early as May [see Daily GPI, March 19, 2010]. Many believe it will be the rationalization for a new federal fracking regulation before the end of the administration. That could short-circuit America's renaissance in energy that is creating millions of jobs, generating a gusher of revenue to governments -- mostly state and local -- and reducing our dependence on foreign oil."

The cost for regulations already on the books is $1.8 trillion annually, Donohue said.

In response, the Chamber "is redoubling its effort to roll back the regulatory onslaught -- to wipe out regulations that have long outlived their usefulness and to fix, replace, or repeal the worst regulations facing us today," Donohue said.

Those efforts include support for two pieces of legislation before Congress: the Regulatory Accountability Act (HR 2122), which would modernize the Administrative Procedures Act, which governs the regulatory process, and the Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act (HR 2641), which would reform the federal permitting process.

A report released last month on the Obama administration's regulatory priorities for the upcoming year indicated that EPA will continue to focus its attention on greenhouse gas emissions standards for power plants, while the Interior Department plans to get tougher in its oversight of the Outer Continental Shelf and complete its rulemaking on fracking on public lands (see Daily GPI, Nov. 27).

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