Forest road ban could cost $164M a year in lost jobs, energy development, says administration

The Daily News, Aberdeen, WA


WASHINGTON -- Implementing a Clinton-era logging and road building ban in a third the nation's federal forests would cost as much $164 million a year in lost jobs and energy development, the Bush administration says.

But the ban would produce only $219,000 a year in benefits from "reduced road maintenance," according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The logging ban is just one of over 300 regulations and proposed changes to them addressed in terms of costs and benefits in a summary prepared by OMB and sent Thursday to Congress.

John Graham, the OPB administrator of information and regulatory affairs, said the estimates were prepared by various government agencies.

"We're pursuing an agenda of smarter regulation, and that is not simply a slogan. It has important ramifications," he said.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House has issued 58 regulations aimed at strengthening the nation's security and helping businesses and communities that suffered, Graham said.

Aside from the logging ban, the White House budget office report surprisingly finds Clinton-era regulations generally cost effective. Undoing many of those regulations as ineffective intrusions by the government was one theme of President Bush's 2000 campaign for the White House.

There have been an estimated $48 billion to $102 billion in annual benefits from regulations created between April 1995 until eight months after President Clinton left office, an amount the report says ranges from roughly the same to nearly twice the cost of the rules. The costs of those rules were put at $50 billion to $53 billion.

The White House asked 26 agencies to consider public comments proposing changes to hundreds of federal regulations on topics ranging from labeling amounts of caffeine to preventing crushed car roofs and ensuring safe chemical plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency is the biggest focal point, with 65 issues raised for the agency to consider. Next is the Transportation Department, with 55, the Labor Department, 35, the Federal Communications Commission, 24, and the Treasury Department, 12. Issues for all other federal agencies are in the single digits.

The report lists 316 issues in all that under consideration, most of them involving writing new or rewriting current regulations. But for the first time OMB has included issues involving guidance documents, meant to help regulators and those regulated steer through gray areas.

About half the issues are already under review by federal agencies or concern independent agencies. Graham said his office is not inclined at this point to intervene with the independent agencies. That leaves 161 issues that OMB is most interested in, Graham said.

Copyright 1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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