EPA Rules Don’t Kill Jobs, They Save Lives

Environmental standards finalized under the Obama administration are expected to yield extraordinary benefits while imposing relatively small costs on businesses, according to a new paper by the Economic Policy Institute. “The combined annual benefits from all final rules exceed their costs by $32 billion to $142 billion a year,” the paper, Tallying up the Impact of New EPA Rules, concludes.

The EPI paper, written by Isaac Shapiro, examines nine major rules finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the Obama administration. The report adds up the projected costs and projected benefits of all the rules, using both the low-end and high-end estimates provided by EPA. Even if the costs of all nine rules turn out to be at the high-end of EPA’s estimates, and the benefits of all nine rules end up at the low-end, benefits will outweigh costs by $32 billion ($12.5 billion in costs compared to $44.5 billion in estimates), according to the report. Given that a previous EPI report found that agencies often overstate compliance costs when preparing the cost-benefit analyses for rules, the actual “net benefits” are likely to be much higher.

Of course, the real benefits are those to human health. As the EPI report also points out, the environmental standards will save lives, prevent heart attacks, and result in fewer hospital visits and more days at work for those affected by air pollution.

The EPI report is unlikely to dissuade Congressional Republicans of their ridiculous view that environmental regulations are hurting the economy. This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is considering the TRAIN Act, a piece of legislation that would create a closed committee of cabinet secretaries and other high-level officials to scrutinize the impact of EPA standards on the economy. The committee’s review, which would be in addition to the internal reviews EPA already performs and the review conducted by the Office of Management and Budget, would delay public health and environmental standards while giving polluters yet another audience for its anti-regulatory lobbying.

But those of us who believe in the value of environmental protection have the truth on our side. “When fully in effect in 2014, the combined costs of the rules finalized by the Obama administration’s EPA would amount to less than 0.1% of the economy,” the EPI paper says.

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