Tags: EPA | regulation | Eisenberg | Livermore

Experts Discuss Merits of EPA Regulations

By    |   Thursday, 09 Apr 2015 08:17 AM

Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and Michael Livermore, senior adviser for the Institute for Policy Integrity, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal April 8 to discuss the costs and benefits of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that have been one of the most visible initiatives of the Obama administration, affecting the economies and politics of states with coal-burning power plants.

They were interviewed by host Greta Wodele Brawner, who asked Eisenberg to discuss costs and benefits.

Eisenberg responded that the calculation is a legal requirement of the executive orders from several consecutive administrations, and the benefits must outweigh the costs for any regulation to be promulgated. He noted the process is routinely conducted by the EPA and the findings often fuel controversy about whether a regulation should be issued. Eisenberg called the costs of some of the most recent regulations "pretty extravagant" — in the billion and billions of dollars — and stated the findings have touched off "a pretty robust debate over how the cost/benefit analysis is done, and in particular for manufacturers, how the costs are measured not terribly well."

Eisenberg emphasized that manufacturers want "predictability and certainty in the regulatory process" to protect industry competitiveness as well as the environment, because trillions in costs and millions of jobs are affected. Asked for an example, he cited a recent Supreme Court case as Exhibit A because the EPA was dealing with a regulation designed to limit mercury emissions from power plants and the EPA contended, according to plaintiffs, that "99 percent of the benefits are coming from the reduction of things other than mercury, and at the same time, they drastically underestimated the cost." Plaintiffs accused the EPA of underestimating the number of power plants to be closed by a factor of 10. They argued that regulation is becoming less efficient, and at the end of the day, consumers bear the costs.

Given a chance to defend the benefits of EPA regulations, Livermore agreed that the cost/benefit analyses have been conducted for decades, and he named air quality regulations as the focus of the debate, with the largest benefit realized in the form of lives saved, because "a variety of effluents" from electricity generation by coal-fired power plants, mainly particulates, are "associated with premature mortality," as found in public health studies.

Regarding the Supreme Court case, Livermore said the issue is "when the agency should consider costs and benefits, according to the specific statutory provision that is the subject of the case." The statute is the Clean Air Act, and Livermore argued that some of the provisions prohibit the EPA from taking costs into account, but the mercury rule falls under "hazardous air pollutants," and here "the question is whether the agency considered costs at the right moment."

In contrast to Eisenberg's characterization of the regulation as "pretty extravagant," for Livermore the balance is "massively" in favor of the benefits. He expects the rule to be upheld because the regulation could not be designed until the EPA had found mercury needed to be regulated.

On Tuesday President Obama offered "the costs of inaction" as the standard to justify EPA regulations and bolster his legacy as "a green president." In conclusion, Livermore suggested that the differences between the contending sides have been "exaggerated," and Eisenberg responded that the benefits of environmental regulation are diminishing so it is time to slow down.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and Michael Livermore, senior adviser for the Institute for Policy Integrity, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal to discuss the costs and benefits of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.
EPA, regulation, Eisenberg, Livermore
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2015-17-09
Thursday, 09 Apr 2015 08:17 AM
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