New federal regulations cost the economy $112 billion in 2013, according to a newly released tally of government figures from the American Action Forum.
Led by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and health care agencies, the federal government added 157.9 million hours of paperwork for U.S. workers.
American Action Forum, a right-of-center Washington think tank, found in an analysis of Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and Federal Register data released Wednesday that regulators have published $494 billion in net costs in final rules from 2009 through 2013.
Two major proposed rules, relating to emissions standards and efficiency standards for motors, drove the regulatory costs for 2013. Yet, according to AAF, overall regulatory activity was down from previous years in President Obama's tenure. The administration published 77 new major regulations, versus 100, in 2010. Any regulation that results in an annual effect on the economy greater than $100 million is considered major.
The largest new burden in terms of paperwork came from an "obscure" rule relating to affirmative action and nondiscrimination for contractors. It would add 9.9 million hours of paperwork.
AAF also measured the cost of regulations on individual companies by examining their 10-K reports. Among the biggest losers were Bank of America, with $1.7 billion in annual compliance costs, Duke Energy with $5.7 billion, and Pfizer with $1.6 billion.
Regulatory costs are only going to increase in 2014, predicts AAF. Depending on the White House's sensitivity to the politics around regulations and how quickly rules are moved, they could total $143 billion, the think tank estimates.