A Free-Market Energy Blog

Trump’s Last Regulatory White Paper (Fall 2020 Regulatory Plan)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- December 14, 2020

“Four years of regulatory reform has promoted the prosperity and liberty of Americans and advanced the rule of law. This Regulatory Plan continues that tradition.” [below]

“Reforms of environmental and energy regulations have propelled America to a position of energy dominance while maintaining and advancing the cleanliness of our air, water, and land.” [below]

Two per year, each U.S. federal agency publishes a Regulatory Agenda. The Trump Administration just last week released its Fall 2020 agenda, excerpted below.

MasterResource has closely followed Trump’s deregulatory actions on energy and the environment (see here). It has been a positive story as mentioned in our final comment below. But what is good is bad to the regulate-regulate-regulate crowd, seeing market failure as ubiquitous and both analytic failure and government failure as unimportant. Stated James Goodwin of the Center for Progressive Reform,

In short, on paper, the new additions are consistent with the ‘goals’ of the Trump anti-safeguard executive order but benefit from its asymmetric nature…. To the extent we can learn anything from this at all, it reinforces how lucky the public health and the environment are that Trump lost reelection.”


“Regulatory reform marks one of the central and abiding successes of President Trump’s Administration. From the beginning, the President has focused on regulatory reform as a principal means both to promote economic growth and to secure the liberty of Americans…. Many of the most important deregulatory actions have issued in the past fiscal year, leading to the greatest reduction in regulatory burden in decades. As significant, the President has reformed the way regulation happens in the United States, thereby promoting the rule of law.”

“The American system of government is built on the rule of law. That concept includes certain basic requirements, for instance, that legal mandates will be imposed only in accordance with valid procedures; that those subject to the law must be able to understand and comply with it; that penalties may be imposed only for violations of the law; and that violations must be determined through a fair process. One of President Trump’s principal goals in pursuing regulatory reform has been to promote the rule of law in the administrative process.”

“Further to promote the rule of law, the President in Executive Order 13924 set forth ten principles to reform administrative enforcement and adjudication. This “Regulatory Bill of Rights” [see here] is based on one of the great insights of our system of government: that enforcement may be both effective and fair, that we may safeguard our citizens while respecting their rights.

“The list includes the principle that the agency, not the citizen, bears the burden of proof; that enforcement actions must be prompt; that agency adjudicators must be independent of enforcement staff; that the government must provide favorable evidence in its possession to the subject of enforcement; and others equally important.”

“These principles are at the very heart of American notions of the rule of law. Since issuance of the Executive Order, agencies have worked with OIRA to review their existing procedures and conform to these principles.”

General Achievements

“At the beginning of his Administration, President Trump made the reduction of regulatory burden a major priority for all Executive agencies. Executive Order 13771, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs(Jan. 30, 2017), directs a two-fold approach to reform: It requires that agencies, consistent with legal obligations, eliminate two regulations for each new significant regulation and achieve yearly burden reduction goals.”

“Fiscal Year 2020 witnessed record success under EO 13771, as agencies achieved regulatory cost savings of more than a hundred billion dollars. Agencies also continued to exceed EO 13771’s two-for-one directive in Fiscal Year 2020, issuing more than three deregulatory actions for every regulatory action. Adding these accomplishments to the successes of previous fiscal years, agencies have achieved the following:

Eliminated $198.6 billion in overall regulatory costs across the federal government; andEliminated 5.5 regulations for every new significant one added (538 deregulatory actions overall). These hundreds of deregulatory actions have diminished the influence of Washington, allowing Americans to make decisions for themselves and as members of their States and various communities, with their actions directed by their own judgment and initiative rather than by federal mandates.

“Farmers are now free to farm their land as they see fit and protect their livestock from predators, subject to the laws they themselves enact through their State and local officials. Small businesses can expand and create jobs. Truckers can safely move vital goods more quickly to the Americans who need them most. Automakers can build the safer and more affordable cars that American families desire. Major infrastructure projects can move forward more quickly. And organizations of religious believers are free to provide health insurance in a way that comports with their deeply-held moral convictions.”

“Many deregulatory actions have prepared America for the economy of the future. Reforms of environmental and energy regulations have propelled America to a position of energy dominance while maintaining and advancing the cleanliness of our air, water, and land.”

Department of Energy

“DOE’s regulatory and deregulatory priorities reflect the Department’s efforts to achieve meaningful burden reduction while continuing to achieve the Department’s statutory obligations. To that end, DOE is including threeongoing rulemakings in its Regulatory Plan this year and highlighting two completed actions.”

“There are two other proposed rulemakings in DOE’s Regulatory Plan that are deregulatory actions aimed at reducing regulatory costs and burdens. The first action would establish a short cycle product class for clothes washers and clothes dryers of 30 minutes each (45 minutes for front-loading clothes washers).”

“The other action would harmonize the Department’s definition of a ‘showerhead’ with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME) consensus standard so that, for products with multiple showerheads, compliance with the water conservation standard would be based on each individual showerhead.”

“DOE has also completed a rule to modernize the procedures for establishing energy conservation standards and test procedures as part of DOE’s Appliance Program, also known as the ‘Process Rule.’ Lastly, DOE has completed a rule in response to a petition for a new product class of short cycle dishwashers, which is characterized by a 60 minute or less normal wash cycle.”


If Trump falls short of a second term, it certainly will not be by much. Expect the progress and rising expectations that his administration instilled to continue to persist in a Biden dark period. And expect the elections in 2022 and 2024 to return to a prove-it regulatory approach to economic life.

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