Are we really facing a regulatory onslaught in Obama's second term? (Hint: Yes.)

Nothing that anyone who pays attention doesn’t know already, but a point to which I intend to give unrelenting attention as we move “forward” into the next four years of an Obama economy. It is an indescribable shame that what America needs more than anything else right now is a robust rate of positive economic growth, yet we seem to be doing everything within our power to suppress America’s natural entrepreneurial drive.

Economic growth is what creates productive private-sector jobs, effectively lifts people out of poverty, gets people off of the government dole, brings in more revenue, and brings about innovation and efficiency. For all I can tell, President Obama is singularly determined to do all of the things the federal government can reasonably do to curb economic growth — distorting free-market signals with government intervention, growing the bureaucracy, trying to raise taxes and further convolute the tax code, placing more restrictions upon free trade when it suits his agenda, and perhaps most dauntingly of all, continuing to introduce endless rolls of red tape that pose incalculable opportunity costs upon our economic movers and shakers (and, by extension, on everyone else — because that is what “top-down” really means).

The regulatory rollout on its way is legitimately frightening. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a small-business owner hoping to grow my outfit — already an uphill climb — and then be looking up the mountain and face this tidal wave of hoopla head on. The WSJ explains how the Obama administration put the brakes on their rule-writing in preparation for the election, but no more:

The government defines “economically significant” rules as those that impose annual costs of $100 million or more, and the Bush, Clinton and Bush Administrations each ended up finalizing about 45 major rules per year. The average over Mr. Obama’s first two years was 63 but then plunged to 44 for 2011 and 2012 so far. The bureaucracies didn’t slow down. They merely postponed and built up a backlog that is about to hit the Federal Register.

We’d report the costs of the major-rule pipeline if we had current data. But the White House budget office document known as the unified agenda that reveals the regulations under development hasn’t been published since fall 2011. The delay violates multiple federal laws and executive orders that require an agenda every six months…

The still-unwritten industry overhaul that ObamaCare is attempting to orchestrate, the regulatory discretion of the Consumer Financial “Protection” Bureau created by Dodd-Frank, and the practically unhinged zealotry of the Environmental Protection Agency — these are the biggest three that are quickly going to start wreaking havoc on our economy through their direct actions as well as the uncertainty they’ll produce. The impact of the EPA’s subtly unsubtle war on traditional energies in particular is going to start eating into everybody’s incomes, and have a disproportionate effect on families with lower incomes who can least afford to start spending a larger chunk on utilities. Here’s just a snippet of incoming enviro regs on which the administration punted until after the election from a recent Senate report:

Hydraulic Fracturing: Today the Obama administration – through no less than fourteen federal agencies, including the EPA, the Department of Energy (DOE), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – is currently working to find ways to regulate hydraulic fracturing at the federal level, so that they can limit and eventually stop the practice altogether. In order to curtail hydraulic fracturing on public lands, BLM, under Secretary Salazar’s control, will be finalizing new regulations sometime after the election, which will have serious impacts on domestic energy production. According to one study, “The total aggregate cost for new permits and well workovers resulting from this rule would range from $1.499 billion to $1.615 billion annually. This is a conservative estimate of the delays and costs associated with the proposed rule which equates to about $253,800 per well, and $233,100 per re-fracture stimulation.” …

Tier III Gas Regulations: EPA is preparing to propose a rulemaking called Tier III, which reduces the content of sulfur in gasoline from 30 ppm to 10 ppm. The cost of this rule could be up to $10 billion initially and $2.4 billion annually, and it could add up to 9 cents per gallon in manufacturing costs; these costs would inevitably be passed on to consumers at the pump. As a recent Energywire article explained, many on the far left believe that political motives caused President Obama to delay this rule until after the election. …

Farm Dust Regulations: EPA has been regulating farm dust for decades and may tighten the standards as part its review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for coarse particulate matter (PM10). Tightening the PM10 NAAQS would have widespread implications for rural America, as it could be below the amount of dust created during normal farming operations, and therefore be impossible to meet. If the standard is tightened, the only option for farmers to comply will be to curb everyday farm activities, which could mean cutting down on numbers of livestock or the tilling of fields, or they may have to shrink or even end their businesses altogether.

The United States has the potential to become perhaps the world’s largest energy producer in the coming decades, but I doubt that attainable economic boon will do much to put a damper on the EPA’s green-bellicism. We voted for four more years of Obamanomics, and by gum, we’re going to get it good and hard.