Recent Op-Eds

Regulations Have Consequences

By Sen. John Thune

March 17, 2023

Government regulations don’t always grab headlines, but they often cause unnecessary headaches for small businesses, farmers, and ranchers. The Biden administration has made aggressive use of its regulatory power, pushing through measures that will collectively saddle Americans with $360 billion in compliance costs and 220 million hours of paperwork. These numbers are a reminder that regulations have consequences that ripple throughout our economy.

Regulations often have an outsized impact on small businesses. Take, for instance, the Biden administration’s proposal to require federal contractors to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and, in some cases, related emissions from their customers, over which they have no control. If implemented, thousands of small businesses would be affected by this rule and forced to spend valuable time and money just to continue doing business with the federal government. Another rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would threaten small trucking companies with up to $8,300 in additional costs per truck. A similar rule over a decade ago pushed many smaller trucking operations out of business. This would be problematic at any time, but is especially concerning amid supply chain problems nationwide and sustained inflation.

The Biden EPA has also resurrected the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which would give the federal government sweeping jurisdiction over most bodies of water on private property, like certain ditches, and even prairie potholes. Landowners could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in compliance costs and see the value of their land plummet because of this extension of red tape to farms and ranches. I continue to support efforts to stop WOTUS, and related EPA overreach, through the Congressional Review Act process and the Supreme Court.

President Biden has also used the long arm of executive action to throttle back conventional energy production, starting with cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline and pausing energy development on federal lands during his first week in office. Last year, the president rolled back regulatory reforms that had streamlined permitting processes for energy projects, and he increased fees on oil production. And just recently, President Biden undercut the approval of one development project by significantly restricting drilling for oil in the Arctic.

Fortunately, the president’s regulatory power is not unchecked, and congressional Republicans are using our authority under the Congressional Review Act to overturn burdensome regulations. We face an uphill battle, but Republicans have notched some noteworthy wins and remain committed to protecting the American people from these problematic regulations. I also recently introduced legislation to help prevent economically damaging regulations from going into effect in the first place. The Regulatory Transparency Act would require a more transparent and objective analysis of a regulation’s impact, and it would require agencies to consider less burdensome options of achieving the same goal.

Regulations have consequences, and the Biden administration’s use of the regulatory system to advance its agenda will continue to have negative impacts that ripple throughout our economy and our country. I’ll continue to push back against damaging regulations and work to provide regulatory relief for our small businesses, farmers, and ranchers.