A Regulatory System That Works for America, Part II

Dec 9, 2013

Last week’s column discussed the stifling uncertainty and the strangled economic growth caused by a tsunami of rules and our out-of-date, off-balance, and opaque regulatory system. To halt the regulatory onslaught, we need to fundamentally reform the system itself. We need a regulatory system that restores checks and balances, ensures unfettered public participation, upholds the rule of law, relies on quality data, and restores good governance.

There are two pieces of bipartisan legislation before Congress that would make sensible reforms to our outdated regulatory system, help bolster our economy, and provide for better balance in government.

The first is the Regulatory Accountability Act that would modernize the Truman-era Administrative Procedure Act, which governs our regulatory process. The APA was passed before the creation of many major rulemaking agencies. It needs an overhaul to deal with the current reality—hundreds of agencies issuing thousands of rules every year. The legislation would require more transparency, greater public participation, and demonstrated justification for new rules.

The second bill is the RAPID Act, which would make commonsense reforms to the federal permitting process, helping accelerate the rebuilding of America’s infrastructure. A federal permit is almost always necessary to build or upgrade transmission lines, nuclear power plants, ports, airports, chemical facilities, and any number of major projects. But after a business files for the permit, no one is in charge, there is no timeline for approval, and parties have six years to sue after an agency makes its final decision. So from the outset, businesses are often looking at more than a decade just to break ground, as well as long delays and costs from legal challenges.

The RAPID Act would not change current environmental standards, but it would put someone in charge of the process, ensure coordination among agencies, and limit reviews and legal challenges. This would help speed up the development of projects so that we can actually start building and developing the country again and creating jobs and growth.

While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce works to advance regulatory reform through legislation, we’re also working within the rulemaking process to achieve modifications and relief on behalf of America’s job creators. We’ve made a real impact on a number of major regulations. But when agencies overstep their bounds or circumvent lawful practices, we go to court and we sue.

Ultimately, we need commonsense reforms that will allow us to create a regulatory system that works for Americans, not against them … a system that fosters jobs and growth, expands economic freedom, and promotes good government.

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