EPA to change how it considers costs, benefits of regulations

By Erin Voegele | June 07, 2018

On June 7, the U.S. EPA issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, announcing the agency is soliciting public input on whether and how to change the way it considers costs and benefits in making regulatory decisions.

Information released by the EPA claims the proposed regulations would aim to increase consistency across EPA divisions and offices, increase reliability to affected stakeholders, and increase transparency during the development of regulatory actions.

In a statement, the EPA explains that under the leadership of President Trump, the EPA has already taken some steps to change EPA’s cost-benefit calculations. The agency offers the example of its cost of carbon estimations. While under Obama, the EPA estimated the social cost of carbon at $36 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted. However, under Trump’s leadership, the EPA has calculated the social cost of carbon dioxide to be only $5 per ton.

“Many EPA statutes, including the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, provide language on the consideration of costs, but costs have historically been interpreted differently by the EPA depending on the office promulgating the regulatory action,” the agency said on its website. “This has led to EPA choosing different standards under the same provision of the statute, the regulatory community no being able to rely on consistent application of the statute, and EPA developing internal policies on consideration of costs through non-transparent actions. By developing and implementing regulations through a notice-and-comment rulemaking process, it will provide the public with a better understanding of how EPA is evaluating costs when developing a regulatory action and allow the public to provide better feedback to EPA on potential future proposed rules.”

"Many have complained that the previous administration inflated the benefits and underestimated the costs of its regulations through questionable cost-benefit analysis," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "This action is the next step toward providing clarity and real-world accuracy with respect to the impact of the Agency's decisions on the economy and the regulated community."

The EPA has posted a prepublication version of the ANPRM on its website. The proposed rulemaking is expected to be published in the Federal Register soon. Following publication in the Federal Register, a 60 public comment period on the rulemaking will open. Comments can be submitted online on www.Regulations.gov under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OA-2018-0107.