EPA's Partial Retreat on Cost-Benefit Analysis

James Goodwin

May 22, 2019

In a memo sent last week but just now released, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler backtracked a bit on one of the administration's initiatives to undercut sensible safeguards. His May 13 memo abandons the agency's push last year to establish uniform standards for bending agency decision making in favor of cost-benefit analysis, regardless of statutory directives, and instead directs that this effort follow a statute-by-statute approach.

Wheeler’s retreat on this particular effort to ignore the life-saving benefits of environmental rules is good news. He acceded to the concerns raised by CPR and other legal experts that the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and various other environmental laws impose different requirements, making a one-size-fits-all approach to cost-benefit analysis both impractical and unlikely to survive legal challenge. But as with everything this administration does when it comes to health, safety, and the environment, when Wheeler talks about improving the process, the real objective is to allow more pollution in our air and water, favoring industry profit over public health.

More on this later...

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