The Imminent Wave of Federal Regulations

President Obama’s second term promises to be among the most intense periods of regulatory activity since the late 1970s. The major focal points for new rules will be three of the country’s largest industries: health care, energy/environmental, and financial services. This regulatory tsunami will affect virtually all Americans.

Major Features of the New Regulatory Climate. Several themes will shape the regulatory process over the next four years.

1. Continuing gridlock between the parties will make it very difficult for Congress to adopt any legislation that is not supported by a broad consensus. Policymaking will be driven by the administrative and regulatory decisions of Executive agencies.

2. The expected increase in domestic energy supplies, especially the availability of cheap oil and natural gas obtained from shale formations, will have significant impacts on the next generation of regulations. This effect will be most pronounced for the rules that offer the largest benefits and impose the greatest costs – Clean Air Act rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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