U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the finalization of a rule that could result in the agency's deeming most new air pollution regulation proposals too expensive to implement.
The rule codifies the way the agency will assess the costs and benefits of future Clean Air Act regulations. It will allow the EPA to weigh all economic costs of air pollution regulation while undervaluing health benefits, in effect tilting the scales against the implementation of new policies. It runs counter to the recommendations of the EPA’s own Science Advisory Board, headed by Indiana University professor John Graham, which says any economic analysis of regulations should include indirect as well as direct costs and benefits.
Former acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation Janet McCabe said the rule will make regulations look like they cost more than they do, giving regulated industries a legal basis to bring legal challenges to future rules.
“A lot of the things that are called for in this rule I think the EPA already does, but by putting them in a rule, it turns it into something that can form the basis of a legal challenge to the rule,” said McCabe, who serves as director of Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute. “I’m presuming that the reason they moved it along this fast is to make sure that they could get those things done before the new administration comes in.”