EPA Rescinds Unnecessary Benefit-Cost Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an interim final rule to rescind the previous administration’s rule entitled “Increasing Consistency and Transparency in Considering Benefits and Costs in the Clean Air Act Rulemaking Process,” also known as the Benefit-Cost Rule. In response to President Biden’s Executive Order 13990, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis,” EPA reviewed the Benefit-Cost Rule and found that it imposed procedural restrictions and requirements that would have limited EPA’s ability to use the best available science in developing Clean Air Act regulations, and would be inconsistent with economic best practices.

“EPA has critical authority under the Clean Air Act to protect the public from harmful air pollution, among other threats to our health. Revoking this unnecessary and misguided rule is proof positive of this Administration’s commitment to science,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “We will continue to fix the wrongs of the past and move forward aggressively to deliver on President Biden’s clear commitment to protecting public health and the environment.”

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 13990 which directed the EPA to review all regulations and policies undertaken by the previous administration, and rescind or revise any that do not protect public health and the environment. Accordingly, the EPA conducted a comprehensive review of the Benefit-Cost Rule and concluded that the rule should be rescinded in its entirety for several reasons:

• The Benefit-Cost Rule imposed broad restrictions and requirements on when and how the Agency must conduct benefit-cost analyses (BCA) for Clean Air Act rulemakings without explaining why those requirements were needed.

• The Benefit-Cost Rule was not necessary to carry out the Clean Air Act because the EPA already prepares a BCA for Clean Air Act rules that warrant such analysis.

• The codification of specific practices in the Benefit-Cost Rule limited the EPA’s ability to rely on the best available science.

• The Benefit-Cost Rule’s presentational requirements invited net benefit calculations in regulatory preambles that are misleading and inconsistent with economic best practices.

• The Benefit-Cost Rule did not reconcile its provision that the Agency consider the required BCAs with the substantive mandates of the Clean Air Act.

• The pre-existing and ongoing administrative process provides for ample consistency and transparency. EPA will continue to conduct rigorous, state-of-the-art benefit-cost analyses in accordance with the applicable Executive Orders and Office of Management and Budget directives.

This interim final rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. EPA invites and will consider public comment on this rule, and intends to follow it with a final rule that responds to comments received during the public comment period, if any, and reflects any accompanying changes to the Agency’s approach.  

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Press release by: United States Environmental Protection Agency