The Trump administration issued the fewest new regulations during 2019 than in any year since the government began keeping track more than four decades ago, as President Trump cuts away at Obama-era red tape.
The Federal Register for Dec. 31 has published 2,964 final rules in its pages, the lowest number since records began in 1975, said Clyde Wayne Crews, policy vice president of the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank.
Mr. Trump’s previous low for new rule-making was 3,281 in 2017.
“It is a notable achievement that all three of the lowest-ever annual rule counts belong to Trump,” Mr. Crews wrote in his blog on Forbes’ website. “This an even more significant development given that some of Trump’s ‘rules’ are rules written to get rid of or replace other rules.”
The White House said Tuesday that Mr. Trump’s “historic deregulation efforts are driving economic growth, cutting unnecessary costs and increasing transparency.”
“The Trump administration’s deregulatory efforts have slashed regulatory costs by more than $50 billion,” the White House said.
When Mr. Trump came into office, he pledged to cut two federal regulations for every new one imposed. Administration officials say they have far exceeded that pace, reducing “significant” regulations by an 8-to-1 ratio.
Mr. Crews said in an irony that the number of pages in the Federal Register actually rose 14% from 2018, partly because cutting regulations often requires more text explaining the rollbacks.
He also warned that Mr. Trump “has numerous regulatory inclinations of his own” in areas such as antitrust, trade, online speech and workplace social programs that could produce more rules in the coming year.
“The discordant pro-regulatory inclinations of Trump can easily swamp the few tens of billions in claimed savings of his regulatory rollbacks if he does not back off,” Mr. Crews said.
This year, Mr. Trump signed two executive orders to guard against bureaucratic interpretations of rules that could hit Americans with “unfair and unexpected” penalties, the White House said.
In three years, Mr. Trump has rolled back the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States rule to lift regulations on farmers, repealed an Obama stream protection rule, replaced the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan with a new energy rule and has begun the process to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
The administration also is pushing to reverse Obama-era fuel economy regulations by proposing the SAFE Vehicles Rule to lower the cost of cars and freeze mileage standards.
A group of 16 Democratic-led states and cities filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York last week against the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, seeking to block the administration’s efforts to narrow the scope of waterways subject to federal environmental regulations under the Waters of the U.S. rule.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said the administration is violating the Clean Water Act by returning to older environmental standards.