This week, EPA announced that it is considering developing regulations to optimize the use of cost-benefit analyses when it is taking regulatory action. Many environmental statutes require the consideration of costs and benefits to evaluate the impacts of policy choices. EPA is seeking public comment on whether and how these analyses can be made more consistent, reliable, and transparent.

In announcing the Advance Notice of Public Rulemaking, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said:

Many have complained that the previous administration inflated the benefits and underestimated the costs of its regulations through questionable cost-benefit analysis. This action is the next step toward providing clarity and real-world accuracy with respect to the impact of the Agency’s decisions on the economy and the regulated community.

EPA is specifically seeking comment on a number of topics, a few of which are listed below:

  • Should certain cost-benefit terms be defined across statutes?
  • How should EPA address benefits from reductions in pollutants that are not directly regulated?
  • How should EPA address costs or benefits that are known, but that cannot be scientifically quantified or monetized?
  • Should EPA consider the cumulative regulatory costs and benefits of multiple regulations?
  • Would a requirement for systematic retrospective review of regulations help identify necessary revisions and guide future rulemaking efforts?
  • What are the potential concerns with issuing regulations governing EPA’s use of cost-benefit analyses when certain statutes may not specifically reference the need to consider costs along with benefits?
  • How can EPA document its cost-benefit analyses to make them more transparent?

Once the Advance Notice of Public Rulemaking is published, the public will have 30 days to offer comments to EPA.