Do regulations kill jobs? House report draws on businesses' answers.

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 9, 2011; 8:46 PM

The Republican staff of a key House oversight committee has expressed a degree of sympathy for industry arguments that federal regulations are killing jobs.

"Many regulations that appear to impose a large burden on the private sector, while providing a dubious benefit to the public, still remain on course and on the books," the staff of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform says in a report prepared for a hearing Thursday on complaints from business groups.

The report is part of a broad review of federal regulations by the new Republican leadership in the House, spearheaded by the chairman of the oversight panel, Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.).

Issa asked business groups to identify regulations that have hurt employment, and the report draws on more than 200 responses addressing rules in areas such as the environment, workplace safety and Wall Street.

Though Issa's staff has said it is still gathering information, some conclusions appear in the report.

"There is some evidence that regulations affecting the financial services industry may limit the job creation and growth capabilities of the U.S., reducing economic growth by as much as 4 percent," the report says.

The report cites Environmental Protection Agency standards for industrial boilers as "an example of the Agency getting the cost-benefit balance wrong."

It cites the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as arguing that "industries are effectively regulated out of business."

And it highlights the benefits of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," a process by which natural gas deposits are extracted. Some communities have protested that the process can contaminate drinking water.

The staff report says fracking "is crucial to accessing enormous deposits," and it says the EPA's approach to the issue "could be a precursor to full-blown EPA regulation of this job-creating domestic power resource."

Similarly, the report expresses concern about potential regulation of the ash created when coal is burned to create electricity. "The substantial costs of handling coal ash as hazardous waste would be insurmountable for many power plants," it says.

In response to Issa's request, many business groups framed their long-standing objections to federal rules in terms of jobs - a potential point of vulnerability for President Obama in his bid for reelection.

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