Heinzerling Calls Out Misleading Cost Claims on Environmental Regulations

by Brian Gumm

April 21, 2016

Lisa Heinzerling, a Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar and Georgetown University Professor of Law, published a piece this week on The Conversation that explores the ongoing political debate over environmental regulations. 

In particular, Heinzerling calls out the often misleading claims about the costs of safeguards that protect our air, water, health, and wild places: 

Specifically, the [2010 Small Business Administration regulatory costs] study misinterpreted a World Bank database and drew unsupportable conclusions from it. The study also included the costs of rules that did not exist because either agencies or courts pulled them back. It relied on a 1974 study by the National Association of Manufacturers to estimate the cost of workplace safety regulations today, and double-counted rules in estimating costs. 

Even when performed more carefully, estimates of regulatory costs have often proved too high. For example, the actual costs of the national emissions trading program targeting acid rain (created in 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act) were far lower than the costs estimated as Congress debated the program. There were several reasons for the overestimation. Notably, it did not account for technological changes that would occur due to the regulatory program itself. 

Huge estimates of regulatory costs, standing alone, also ignore the losses – in environmental integrity, human health and economic prosperity – associated with environmental harms. According to a peer-reviewed EPA study, the Clean Air Act alone will prevent over 230,000 premature deaths in 2020, and return more than $30 in benefits for every dollar spent in costs. 

You can read the full text of Heinzerling's piece at The Conversation.

Be the first to comment on this entry.
We ask for your email address so that we may follow up with you, ask you to clarify your comment in some way, or perhaps alert you to someone else's response. Only the name you supply and your comment will be displayed on the site to the public. Our blog is a forum for the exchange of ideas, and we hope to foster intelligent, interesting and respectful discussion. We do not apply an ideological screen, however, we reserve the right to remove blog posts we deem inappropriate for any reason, but particularly for language that we deem to be in the nature of a personal attack or otherwise offensive. If we remove a comment you've posted, and you want to know why, ask us (info@progressivereform.org) and we will tell you. If you see a post you regard as offensive, please let us know.

Also from Brian Gumm

Brian Gumm is the Communications Director at the Center for Progressive Reform. Prior to joining CPR in March 2016, he spent nearly a decade in several roles at the Center for Effective Government, including communications director and senior writer.

The Center for Progressive Reform

455 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150-513
Washington, DC 20001
info@progressivereform.org
202.747.0698

© Center for Progressive Reform, 2015