Proposed changes to federal regulatory processes would allow more politicized rulemakings, exaggerate benefits over costs and marginalize the voice of electric cooperatives, NRECA told the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The association urged OMB to withdraw these draft revisions in formal comments filed June 6. The agency is under an executive order to “modernize” its regulatory process next year.

“We emphasized to OMB how this proposal could come at a great cost to affordable and reliable electricity,” said Dan Bosch, NRECA regulatory affairs director. “The current process has served administrations of both parties for decades, but this proposal would substantially undermine, and even politicize, the quality of regulatory analyses.” 

As drafted, the proposed process would tilt the inputs considered for calculating the cost/benefit of regulations to favor benefits, obscure compliance burdens and result in more frequent guidance revisions by future administrations, NRECA said in its comments. 

“These changes would establish the precedent that administrations can modify the regulatory review process to meet their policy preferences,” NRECA said. “It would lead to a pendulum effect that eliminates consistency across administrations.” 

A top concern for NRECA is how the proposal would disproportionately inflate a rule’s benefits by reducing the amount that economic impacts are discounted over time. This move is “arbitrary and will unfairly appear to make regulatory actions more beneficial than can realistically be expected,” NRECA told OMB. 

NRECA said the proposal also would overstate the benefits by broadening the scope of regulatory analysis to a global level, well beyond the communities or businesses burdened with compliance costs.  

OMB also would be directed to prioritize meeting with stakeholders who “have not historically requested meetings” and to limit those who request a meeting to attending only one per stage of a rulemaking, which can take years.

The proposal allows OMB to consolidate 30-minute meetings based on the agency’s expectation of a group’s position and require a summary of stakeholders’ expected views.

“These revisions will hinder NRECA and our electric co-op members from effectively providing vital input and analysis to federal agencies aiming to issue consequential regulations,” Bosch said. “We strongly encourage OMB to reconsider proposed changes that will shortchange public discourse in setting significant regulations.”