The Department of is inviting the public to submit comments and information about DOE regulations that might be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed. Specific suggestions on how DOE can better achieve its regulatory objectives are also invited.
The request for information is part of DOE’s response to President Obama’s January 2011 executive order, Improving Regulation and Review, which directed federal agencies to consider how best to promote retrospective analyses of their existing rules. DOE asserts that it is “committed to maintaining a consistent culture of retrospective review and analysis” and also that it will “continually engage in review of its rules to determine whether there are burdens on the public that can be avoided by amending or rescinding existing requirements.”
Last April, in its initial response to the EO, DOE listed 10 accomplished or proposed significant changes resulting from retrospective reviews of specific regulations. These included an 18-month extension of a new energy-efficiency rule that would cost as much as $500 million to implement and would significantly interrupt industry research and development efforts; a notice of proposed rulemaking considering the use alternative efficiency determination methods such as computer modeling to reduce testing burden and eliminate many millions of dollars of testing costs; a proposed rule to amend existing National Environmental Policy Act regulations affecting categorical exclusions, which could save taxpayers as much as $100 million over 10 years; issuance of guidance on a “change in course” in how DOE intends to enforce existing water conservation standards for showerheads to avoid needless “economic dislocation” carrying a cost that some industry representatives estimated at $400 million; and a test procedure for fluorescent lamp ballasts that reduces testing burdens and is expected to reduce laboratory costs by 50 percent.
DOE concedes that it is difficult to be certain of the consequences of a rule, including its costs and benefits, unit it has been tested. Because knowledge about the full effects of a rule is widely dispersed in society, DOE continues, members of the public are likely to have useful information and perspectives on the benefits and burdens of existing requirements and what kinds of changes would be most effective. “In short, engaging the public in an open transparent process is a crucial step in DOE’s review of its existing regulations,” says DOE.
The RFI includes 10 questions intended to assist the public in providing feedback on regulations. Among the questions: How can DOE identify rules that are most in need of change? Are there outdated reporting requirements that should be modernized? Does DOE currently collect information it does not need? Are there regulations, reporting requirements, or regulatory processes that are unnecessarily complicated and warrant streamlining? Are there regulations that are working well and that can be expanded or used as a model to fill gaps in other DOE regulatory programs?
DOE is requesting comments and information by May 29, 2012; however, DOE indicates that it “is always open to receiving information about the impact of its regulations.”
DOE’s RFI was published in the May 15, 2012, FR. DOE’s Preliminary Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Rules is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/files/documents/2011-regulatory-action-plans/DepartmentofEnergyPreliminaryRegulatoryReformPlan.pdf.