the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives


Dear Mr. Speaker:

Thank you for your letter of August 26, 2011. I agree that it is extremely important to minimize regulatory burdens and to avoid unjustified regulatory costs, particularly in this difficult economic period. I have taken a number of steps to achieve those goals.

Executive Order 13563, issued early this year, imposes a series of new requirements designed to reduce regulatory burdens and costs. As you are undoubtedly aware, this Executive Order also called for an ambitious Government-wide review of rules now on the books. The review was recently completed, producing reform plans from 26 agencies. A mere fraction of the initiatives described in the plans will save more than $10 billion over the next 5 years; as progress continues, we expect to be able to deliver savings far in excess of that figure.

I would add that the costs of final, economically significant rules reviewed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs were actually higher in 2007 and 2008 than in the first 2 years of my Administration. And in 2009 and 2010, the benefits of such rules -- including not only monetary savings but also lives saved and illnesses prevented -- exceeded the costs by tens of billions of dollars.

Your letter draws attention to the rules listed on this year's regulatory agenda. Under both Republican and Democratic administrations, the agenda is merely a list of rules that are under general contemplation, provided to the public in order to promote transparency. Before any such rules can be issued, they must be subject to a long series of internal and external constraints, including the rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act and the new burden-reducing, cost saving requirements of Executive Order 13563. Many rules listed on an agenda, in any given year, are not issued.

You also ask for a list of pending rules that would cost over $1 billion. As noted, the regulatory agenda includes a large number of rules that are in a highly preliminary state, with no reliable cost estimate. I can assure you that all rules that the Administration promulgates, including and especially the expensive rules, are very carefully scrutinized for conformity to the law and Executive Order 13563.

At the present time, seven rules have been proposed to the public with an estimated annual cost in excess of $1 billion; they are listed as an appendix to this letter. Of course, these rules are merely proposed, and before finalizing any of them, we will take account of public comments and concerns and give careful consideration to cost-saving possibilities and alternatives.

I look forward to working closely with you to produce a regulatory system that will, in the words of Executive Order 13563, "protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation."