NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Examples of Wasteful Regulations

August 2, 1997

Advocates of economic deregulation say that too often their efforts are side-tracked by a decision to study the question one more time. Another such study is scheduled to be submitted to Congress by the Office of Management and Budget next month on "The Costs and Benefits of Federal Regulations."

Critics of pervasive federal regulations cite countless horror stories:

  • In the early 1980s cities and states were forced to spend almost $20 billion to remove asbestos from public buildings -- then scientists discovered that dislodging it increased the danger to the public by freeing the fibers to fly through the air.
  • In 1992 the Environmental Protection Agency required Amoco to spend $31 million to reduce benzene emissions from a Virginia refinery -- although the same result could have been achieved under more flexible regulations for $6 million.
  • Under Superfund regulations one railway yard in Newark was forced to make its ground water cleaner than drinking water.
  • All new cars for 1998 must be fitted with air bags -- but the government says don't worry, you can disconnect them.

And then there are those Food and Drug Administration regulations which have made medicine bottles so secure that the elderly can't open them.

Source: Lexington, "In Love With Regulation," The Economist, August 2, 1997.


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