Some welcome news via an editorial issued by The Wall Street Journal. Barack Obama’s EPA hyped the cost-benefit analysis of its proposed rules while downplaying their overall impact on the economy. By doing so, EPA bureaucrats would push through almost 600 new mandates a year, imposing the highest regulatory costs of any federal agency.
Thankfully, the EPA under Donald Trump is poised to take the first step in reforming cost-benefit analysis by requiring an agency-wide standard for how rules are applied. This, in turn, would make the regulatory process more transparent since it would allow politicians and even bureaucrats to assess whether more regulation is needed. The editorial goes on to state:
By introducing “social costs” and “social benefits,” the EPA began factoring in speculation about how regulatory inaction would affect everything from rising sea levels to pediatric asthma. EPA optimists even included their guesses about how domestic regulations could have a global impact. Meanwhile, the agency ignored best practices from the Office of Management and Budget, juking the numbers to raise the cost of carbon emissions.
This proved as politically useful as it was scientifically imprecise. Months before introducing the Clean Power Plan, the EPA suddenly raised the social cost of a ton of carbon emissions to an average of $36 from $21. Before it embarked on new oil and gas regulations, the EPA put the social cost of methane at an average of $1,100 per ton.
At White House direction, the Trump EPA recalculated those figures last year to include only demonstrable domestic benefits. The social cost estimates dropped to an average of $5 per ton of carbon and $150 per ton of methane. That made a big difference in the cost-benefit analysis. While the Obama Administration claimed the Clean Power Plan would yield up to $43 billion in net benefits by 2030, the Trump EPA concluded it would carry a $13 billion net cost.
When he first took office, EPA head Scott Pruitt promised to end the nonsense that went on in the agency and his has mostly followed through. As a result he has been excoriated by the press with a constant barrage of allegations of misconduct, none of which have garnered enough controversy to warrant a Congressional investigation.
The Obama Administration attempted to destroy the economy with its heavy handed environmental rules and nearly succeeded by nearly shutting down sectors such as the coal. What’s worse is that the agency used science hidden from public scrutiny that was also used as justification for the EPA’s actions. This on top of holdovers from the Obama Administration attempting to obstruct Scott Pruitt from enacting his changes while agency bureaucrats colluded with environmentalist groups to help write agency rules and policies.
Pruitt’s reforms will put the EPA’s rule making back on sound scientific footing (where it should be) and not Platonic, subjective idealism.