Public Comment on DOE’s Request for Information on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

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by Sofie E. Miller, Senior Policy Analyst

July 07, 2017

Download the Public Interest Comment (PDF)

The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center improves regulatory policy through research, education, and outreach. As part of its mission, the Center conducts careful and independent analyses to assess regulatory actions from the perspective of the public interest. This comment on the Department of Energy’s request for information on reducing regulatory burdens does not represent the views of any particular affected party or special interest, but is designed to improve DOE rulemakings and enhance DOE’s retrospective review efforts.


We appreciate the Department of Energy’s (DOE) steps to involve the public in its ongoing retrospective review efforts. As DOE notes in its Request for Information (RFI), the public has access to dispersed information that can inform the Department’s efforts,[3] and this comment attempts to bring the value of dispersed information to the Department by providing insights from the public interest perspective.

Through its RFI, DOE is seeking comment from the public on how to effectively review its existing regulations to reduce regulatory burdens pursuant to Executive Orders 13771,[4] 13777,[5] and 13783.[6] This comment addresses four of DOE’s questions for commenters:

(1) How can DOE best promote meaningful regulatory cost reduction while achieving its regulatory objectives, and how can it best identify those rules that might be modified, streamlined, or repealed?

(2) What factors should DOE consider in selecting and prioritizing rules and reporting requirements for reform?

(3) How can DOE best obtain and consider accurate, objective information and data about the costs, burdens, and benefits of existing regulations? Are there existing sources of data DOE can use to evaluate the post-promulgation effects of regulations over time? We invite interested parties to provide data that may be in their possession that documents the costs, burdens, and benefits of existing requirements.

… (9) Are there regulations, reporting requirements, or regulatory processes that are unnecessarily complicated or could be streamlined to achieve statutory obligations in more efficient ways?[7]

In addressing the above questions, this comment offers four recommendations to DOE to further its retrospective review and regulatory reform efforts:

  • The Department should consider establishing internal standards for how to regulate when significant proportions of the regulated public would bear net costs, perhaps including a threshold for consumer net costs beyond which standards are considered economically unjustified.
  • Instead of proceeding with new rulemakings before the results of previous standards are known, DOE should retrospectively review its previous standards to assess the validity of its ex ante analysis before using the same models and assumptions to issue new energy efficiency rules.
  • To determine whether the large cost savings that DOE forecasts actually materialize for consumers, the Department should consider ways to collect information on consumer preferences and behavior, such as via surveys or other instruments.
  • It would be helpful for DOE to consistently identify which trial standard level it has selected toward the beginning of its appliance rules’ preambles so that readers are aware of the standards that DOE is proposing or mandating while reading the accompanying analysis.

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[3]    82 FR 24583

[4]    Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” January 30, 2017.  82 FR 9339

[5]    Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” February 24, 2017. 82 FR 12285

[6]    Executive Order 13783, “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” March 28, 2017. 82 FR 16093

[7]    82 FR 24583