EPA Seeks Comment on Potential Cost/Benefit Rulemaking

On June 8, 2018, EPA announced an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on how the agency considers the costs and benefits of environmental regulations.  Since 1981, Executive Orders have required EPA to assess the costs and benefits of its significant regulatory actions.  In addition, many environmental statutes require or allow consideration of costs and benefits, albeit with differing standards and terminology.  The statutes leave the specifics of how costs and benefits are considered to the agency.

In the advanced notice, EPA seeks input in three categories.  First, the agency asks for comments about the nature and extent of concerns relating to inconsistency and a lack of transparency in how costs and benefits of rules are considered.  In other words, how would greater transparency affect the regulated community, states, and the public?  Second, EPA seeks proposals on what improved consistency and transparency would look like.  One interesting concept is whether EPA should adopt uniform definitions of specific terms used in statutes – “cost,” “benefit,” “reasonable,” “appropriate” – or have those terms undefined or defined differently for various statutes.  Third, the agency requests comment on challenges and opportunities associated with promulgating new regulations on cost and benefit considerations.

Importantly, at this point EPA is not making any specific proposal, but rather seeking information that may, in turn, be used to formulate a specific proposal.  This is an opportunity for the public and stakeholders impacted by regulatory actions to provide input on how the analysis of costs and benefits might be improved.  A copy of the advanced notice is available here.

Chris Smith