Rules that have been changed by OIRA or Withdrawn

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) often edits the draft rules it receives from federal agencies, and then deems them "consistent with change". But such editing has nearly always weakened rules, not strengthened them. For example, in 2013, OIRA weakened a proposed EPA rule limiting toxic water pollution from power plants; it wrote new, weaker options into the document that would leave some waste streams unregulated.

In another example, in 2011, OIRA held captive for six months an EPA proposal to regulate coal ash disposal, written in response to the spill of 1 billion gallons of coal ash sludge in Kingston, Tennessee in 2008. OIRA hosted 47 meetings on the rule, 33 of them with industry representatives opposed to EPA's proposal. When OIRA was done, it required EPA to revise its proposed rule by adding two new weak regulatory options.

OIRA can also "return" a rule to an agency, meaning it is rejecting the rule, with an explanation of why it has done so. And OIRA can also inform an agency that it is not going to approve a rule, but that it is not going to issue a public return letter - in which case the agency can keep the rule at OIRA or it can "withdraw" the rule.


This chart shows all of the rules that OIRA has ok'd since 1994, comparing which were approved without change and which were changed.


This chart shows the number of rules that have been returned or withdrawn since 1994: