June 4, 2020 / 4:50 PM / a month ago

U.S. EPA proposes changes to how clean air rules are written

WASHINGTON, June 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will release on Thursday a proposed overhaul of how costs and benefits factored in its major clean air rule-makings, a move that would affect the stringency of future regulations.

The proposed benefit-cost analysis would focus on weighing the economic impact of a proposed rule without factoring in the public health benefits that have previously been used to justify expansive regulations, according to a fact sheet circulated ahead of the announcement on Thursday.

“EPA anticipates significant regulations will include those with the largest annual impact on the economy; those that would disproportionately affect an industry, group, or area; or those that are novel or relevant for other policy reasons,” according to the fact sheet.

In April, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler withdrew the legal justification for an Obama-era rule that forced coal-fired power plants to cut their mercury emissions here saying the cost of compliance far outweighed the public health benefits.

He said at that time stripping away other factors used by the Obama administration meant to do its cost-benefit analysis of mercury regulations, such as how the rule would also cut particulate matter and other harmful substances that come out of smoke-stacks, was a “more honest accounting.”

The proposed changes will also require making underlying data used in rule-makings available to the public. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by Diane Craft)

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