New Rule Limits EPA’s Ability To Justify New Air Pollution Control Limits
The Trump Administration is changing the way the EPA weighs the costs and benefits of proposed air pollution regulations. The new rule will make it more difficult for the EPA to justify more onerous air pollution controls.
Under current law, the EPA is required to measure both the cost and benefits of a proposed regulation before it can be finalized. Generally, benefits must outweigh costs for a rulemaking to move forward.
Under the new Trump rule, the EPA is now required to make decisions about air regulations based on a narrower measure of their potential costs and benefits.
In addition, the EPA must now focus its analysis only on costs and benefits directly tied to specific pollutants targeted in a rulemaking and not any collateral environmental benefit that may occur.
EPA must also make all underlying documents used to conduct a cost-benefit analysis available for public inspection rather than providing a truncated narrative summary of the analysis that currently accompanies final rulemakings.
EPA is further limited to only consider regulatory benefits that directly accrue to the United States and not weigh any multinational benefits that may occur.
The changes imposed by the new rule are designed to make it more difficult for the EPA to justify strict new air pollution control measures by limiting the type of benefits the agency can consider.
In effect, the new rule makes it more likely a proposed rule is withdrawn because costs outweigh any benefits it will provide.
Specifically, the new, more narrow cost-benefit analysis is likely to hamper the incoming Biden Administration efforts to cap emissions from power plants, methane leaks at oil wells and ozone standards.
While the Biden Administration could attempt to roll back the new rule, it would require time and a clear justification to do so.