U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on the agency to explain why the analysis supporting its 2014 proposal to lower ground-level ozone standards don’t align with a similar EPA proposal from 2011. The EPA’s regulatory impact analysis for its proposal to revise the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone shows benefits that are significantly higher and costs that are significantly lower than the EPA’s analysis in 2011 for a similar proposal. On September 2, 2011, President Obama requested the withdrawal of the 2011 proposed rule, citing the regulatory burdens and uncertainty it would impose.
Thune and Inhofe’s letter requests the EPA provide analysis that doesn’t include co-benefits of reducing other emissions or include in its calculations any other proposed regulation. Analysis focusing solely on the impacts of this proposal without influence from any other factors is necessary to more accurately evaluate the EPA’s proposal. Moreover, the letter requests an explanation of any changes made to the EPA’s methodology that might explain its arrival at such a drastically favorable analysis.
The senators wrote, “We do not believe the staggering economic costs of a lower standard have improved since 2011. Rather, the EPA’s regulatory impact analysis is intentionally misleading in its incorporation of additional proposed regulations… which significantly impact forward year ozone forecasts and obfuscate the cost of compliance. Understanding that the inclusion of proposed regulations alone may not sufficiently explain the difference between the 2011 and 2014 RIAs, please also include an explanation of any changes that were made to the EPA’s methodology used to calculate costs and benefits.”
Thune introduced legislation in the 113th Congress to block the then-anticipated EPA proposal to lower ground-level ozone NAAQS, the most expensive regulation in the EPA’s history. The proposed regulation could cost $270 billion per year and severely limit job creation across the country. Thune plans to reintroduce his bill in the 114th Congress.
The text of the senators’ letter is below:
February 9, 2015
The Honorable Gina McCarthy
Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Headquarters – William J. Clinton Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator McCarthy:
We request additional information regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) November 25, 2014, proposed rule revising the primary and secondary national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone (79 FR 75233). Specifically, we request that the EPA provide us calculations of the cost and benefits of implementing the proposed lower standards excluding any calculation of benefits resulting from reducing emissions of any pollutant other than ozone. We also request a similar impact analysis that does not include any calculation of cost or benefits estimated to result from any other proposed regulation, as well as an explanation of the EPA’s methodology used in its analysis.
It has come to our attention that the regulatory impact analysis (RIA) for this proposed rule may overestimate the singular benefits of ozone reduction and conceal the true cost of compliance. For example, compliance with a lower ozone standard will also reduce fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and other criteria pollutants, which will register increased health benefits. However, criteria pollutants are already subject to their own regulations, and in the case of PM2.5, are present at levels largely below their respective NAAQS. Isolating the health benefits of reduced ozone from the co-benefits will provide a more genuine understanding of the proposed rule’s impact.
Similarly, it is crucial to consider the actual costs of compliance and implementation for a lower ozone NAAQS. As you know, on September 2, 2011, President Obama requested the withdrawal of a similar proposed rule, citing the “regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty” it would impose. We do not believe the staggering economic costs of a lower standard have improved since 2011. Rather, the EPA’s RIA is intentionally misleading in its incorporation of additional proposed regulations, such as the EPA’s Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, which significantly impact forward year ozone forecasts and obfuscate the cost of compliance. A narrowed baseline will allow for a more focused review of the proposal.
Understanding that the inclusion of proposed regulations alone may not sufficiently explain the difference between the 2011 and 2014 RIAs, please also include an explanation of any changes that were made to the EPA’s methodology used to calculate costs and benefits.
We appreciate your consideration of this important matter and look forward to your timely response and provision of requested information by February 27, 2015.Kindest regards,