Rhode Island Air Pollution Control Regulation No. 42 never helped nor hurt anyone.
It was written in 2001 to fill a potential gap in federal emissions standards for certain heavy-duty diesel trucks that never actually materialized.
Yet even though the rule, dealing with model year 2005 and 2006 engines, never did anything, it remained on the R.I. Department of Environmental Management’s already lengthy rulebooks.
This year, Regulation No. 42 was one of 12 Rhode Island rules identified by state agencies for repeal as part of an effort, started by the General Assembly last year, to clean up the state’s regulatory environment.
Because it is superfluous, Regulation No. 42 is the low-hanging fruit of Rhode Island regulatory reform and DEM is now going through the process of eliminating it.
But doing away with many of the other state regulations now in effect won’t be so easy.
The dozen regulations recommended for repeal came out of 838 total rules – more than half the 1,642 total rules in the state – examined by their enforcing agencies in the first 120-day phase of regulatory review. Another 25 regulations were picked out for amendment and 28 were described as duplicative.
Leslie Taito, director of the R.I. Office of Regulatory Reform and leader of the current review initiative, said in addition to the regulations put on the chopping block by the agencies themselves, her office would be adding its own recommendations to the list by the end of the year.
“We found more we would like to look at – some are duplicated elsewhere and there are some areas where they could clean them up for clarity,” Taito said.
With Rhode Island’s rocky business climate in mind, state lawmakers last summer ordered all state agencies to, within four years, analyze each regulation on their books to determine its cost, impact on small business and whether it could be eliminated.
Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee sped that timeline up to 480 days, with the first of four review phases ending at the end of 2012 and the last ending at the end of this year.
Getting rid of burdensome and counterproductive regulations is the highest-profile part of the Regulatory Reform Initiative, but the work done just to better understand the regulatory climate may be its greatest contribution.
In the initiative’s first progress report released in August, Taito’s office identifies a number of deeper issues than a few antiquated regulations like No. 42.